“He had been expecting a healing refuge for children like him…But this wasn’t it. The Ash House was like the end of a world that had been left to decay, forgotten by everyone who had ever cared about it.”
When a new boy arrives at the Ash House hoping for cure of his painful medical condition, he throws off the balance other residents have been maintaining in the absence of their beloved Headmaster. None of the other kids have ever remembered someone new coming, nor can they ever remember being anywhere other than the Ash House. One of the residents, Dom, struggles to explain Ash House to the new boy- now dubbed Sol since he has apparently forgotten his name upon arrival- and Sol struggles to understand their warnings as the Doctor arrives. Will either boy survive the “Nastiness” of the Doctor?
This eerie chapter book for upper elementary readers has a lot to unpack. With alternating points of view from Dom and Sol, the reader gains insight as two world views collide. The plot offers its share of action scenes while a cerebral tension runs throughout investing the reader in the survival of both Dom and Sol. Medical experiments combine with elements on the shade of fantastical inviting the reader to doubt the reality the Dom and Sol find themselves in. A Jekyll-and-Hyde adult is the only grownup the kids interact with causing confrontation between the residents and Sol. “We have to take his Nastiness with his Niceness.” Sol, being the new boy, more easily demands the answer the reader is asking: why- why should they take both when the “madness was far deeper and scarier than … ever imagined.”
This book is over 300 pages, but definitely a worthy page-turner for readers looking to the shelves for a creepy tale this October.