Book Review: SHADOWGHAST by Thomas Taylor (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in white below two children running across a stage
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - third book



Book cover for SHADOWGHAST: title in white on purple curtains as two children run across an orange stage

While other towns celebrate Halloween, in Eerie-on-Sea it’s Ghastly Night, and a grim spirit in a lantern awaits its moment. Legend has it that if people fail to light manglewick candles on Ghastly Night, and if no showman conjures shadow puppets on the pier as an offering, the insulted Shadowghast will seize and devour the shadows of the living.

This year, a professional theater troupe has been summoned, including a raven-haired magician named Caliastra with startling news of Herbie’s origins. No sooner have the players checked into the hotel than townspeople start vanishing into thin air, including the guardian of Herbie’s best friend, Violet Parma.

It’s up to Herbie and Violet to separate truth from sleight of hand and solve the mystery of the Shadowghast lantern before darkness swallows them all.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


These books really are the perfect thing to pick up as summer turns into autumn if you want something eerie but not horror-ish to get you in the mood. They’re fast paced, funny, and generally all around enjoyable.

The summer season is just ending in Cheerie-on-Sea, the “C” has fallen off, and the “H” will soon, as the mists roll in and the monsters of legend stalk the streets once more. This time, we have a Halloween mystery – except in Eerie-on-Sea, it’s called Ghastly Night, when a monster steals shadows from people, and whoever controls the monster controls the people. Naturally, no one believes the monster is real, so Herbie and Violet have to do it themselves.

Erwin the cat is back and in such a starring role that he gets a mention on the cover! I wasn’t always sure if he could speak, or if he was able to convey meaning through gesture, as sometimes there are “Ne-ow”s and sometimes whole lines attributed to him. Either way, it fits the edge-of-the-map-where-rules-are-different feel to the book.

I love diving deeper into the secrets of the town (and once you’ve read the book, you might get why that phrasing makes me VERY pleased.) After the last book, there were hints at a big mystery wrapped around the town and Herbie. While we don’t make progress in discovering what this mystery is, we do get confirmation that it’s real – and that it will probably be the finale of the series.

For a series that is based in the same location throughout, the layout and places constrained by that very first map, it manages to keep the small town feeling fresh. Locations get added sparkles of meaning and returning to a location can add a semi-nostalgic feel. “I know this place.” (Also very good for not needing to do a lot of description all over again, just pull up the main features to let the brain recall it.)

For some reason, I thought this was going to be the last book, but there is at least one more to come, FESTERGRIMM! And then a brief internet search revealed a fifth book has been signed too! I love it when series I enjoy keep publishing.

Read my reviews of other books by Thomas Taylor:

Eerie-on-Sea (this series):


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