Monday, February 10, 2020

Shadows Rising! Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith

The town was called Gloom, which was a strange name for a town. Some said that sailors gave it the name long ago when they pulled their ships into the harbor only to be met by wind, rain, and very little sunlight.

In the midst of all this gloom there lived a boy named Rory.

Rory is too old for school and too young for a real job, but when he and his hard-working mother are threatened by the cruel Mr. Bumbailiff with the loss of their tiny house, Rory goes out into the fog to find a job to earn the rent to keep the roof over their heads. When he sees an ad for a "gentleman's valet at Foxglove Manor," he applies, even though he has no idea what a valet is.

But at Foxglove Manor, a valet does everything, all the dirty work, as well as fetching and carrying for the frightful Lord Foxglove. Still, Rory knows he must help his mother save their home, so he signs the contract, noticing as he does an inscription in fanciful script below the line for his name.
Upon Penalty of Death

It's a horrible job, but then Rory discovers that his master is a vicious shape-shifting necromancer who serves a blood-lusting goddess of evil, murmuring "I thirst. I hunger."
She is the Destroyer, Queen of Sorrow.

And only Rory, with his best friend Isabelle, a witch herself, have the knowledge and courage to save themselves and those they love... if they can.

In a time past but not yet distant, in a drear and dismal town where visiting ships stay in the harbour no longer than they must, a dark and nefarious sorcerer threatens all, even stealing the children's very shadows. Rory and Izzy, with a little help from her friends, must screw their courage to the sticking point and save their town and their people, in Ronald L. Smith's latest fantasy, Gloom Town (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion, 2020), a tale told of a town than is indeed benighted by its own miasma. Middle reader fans of Ronald Smith's Coretta Scott King Award-winning Hoodoo (see my 2015 review here), will want to get their hands on this atmospheric adventure novel.

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