From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up A telegram arrives, informing Salem Brownstone of the death of the father he never knew. The loss leaves him holding the key to his father's mansion and its strange contents. There he meets a mysterious contortionist in possession of a scrying ball and, as Jedediah Brownstone forewarned his friends, the deathly Shadow Boys have come for it. Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, Salem descends into Dr. Kinoshita's Circus of Unearthly Delights, and the eerie adventures take off from there. Singh's artwork in this oversize book is similar to Edward Gorey's surrealistic pen-and-ink illustrations. It lends itself perfectly to Dunning's dark tale. Fans of H. P. Lovecraft, Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe will enjoy this eerie graphic novel. Lisa Gieskes, CA Johnson Preparatory Academy, Columbia, SC
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*Starred Review* Bound in purple cloth, with oversize pages filled with hallucinatory black-and-white visuals, this graphic novel immediately looks and feels unlike anything else out there. Astonishingly the work of two first-time creators, this is a book that both takes full advantage of its form and offers something unique in the current graphic-novel market: a deep strangeness that pervades every panel, every figure, and even every object within. Although Dunning’s humorously dry writing and the bizarrely calm affect of an array of enjoyable characters help create the creepy tone, Singh’s flowing, surreal perspectives and vaguely Ditko-esque landscapes of alternate planes are what will cast readers into an unfamiliar and occasionally uncomfortable world. Even amid the constant barrage of obtuse and off-kilter imaginings, there are indelible images that stand out: tortured smoke haunting the air over a mansion; intertwined souls trapped within the insectoid eye of a fly. What’s it about? Well, the plot concerns Salem’s inheritance of a magic orb from his deceased father, after which he is abetted by the freakish denizens of Dr. Kinoshita’s Circus and opposed by the Seven Dark Elders of Midnight City. But what it’s really about is the thrill of the genuinely weird. Grades 9-12. --Jesse Karp