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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on April 6, 2013
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle / 1594745919

"Tales from Lovecraft Middle School" is a new YA series I've stumbled into; the books are set in a world much like our own, with the minor difference that no one has ever heard of H.P. Lovecraft, and Cthulhu and Shoggoths and whatnot all exist and are rapidly crawling out of the woodwork at the local brand-new middle school. And our everyman YA protagonist Robert Arthur is stuck in the middle between the adults-who-don't-know and the monsters-who-do.

I love Lovecraftian stories and am always down for a new exploration of the mythos, but I will admit upfront that these books are a little disappointing in the execution of the themes. For me, at least, it's not really enough to slap demons and tentacle-monsters into a book for it to be Lovecraftian; if there's not soul-crushing foreboding and a descent into a horrified lonely mind-breaking nightmarish existence, then it's just not the same. And "Tales from Lovecraft Middle School" doesn't really delve into existential angst or soul-striping fear, probably because the targeted YA audience needs to be able to sleep at night. I get that, and I think the series is fine as a "Lovecraftverse, but not Lovecraftian feel", but if you are coming to the series for that, be aware you're probably not going to get it.

Once I got over my initial disappointment that the tone wasn't quite what I'd hoped for going in, I was pleased to find that this book is still solidly good. It reminds me a lot of the Percy Jackson series, but with Lovecraftian monsters instead of Ancient Greek Mythology ones, which I think we can all agree is a positive thing. The writing is solid, the action moves at a good clip, I never felt like the narrative got bogged down in any place, and the characterization is really well-developed. I think I liked the characterization the most, actually; Robert Arthur is an everyman, but avoids coming off as bland, and his girlfriend and sidekick are both surprisingly well realized. I was also pleased to note that while at least one twist is telegraphed reasonably far in advance for the genre-savvy reader, a final twist is justified nicely enough that it felt very natural indeed. So kudos for that.

Overall, this opening to the series is well-written and fast-paced and I enjoyed it thoroughly once I adjusted my expectations for the content. This probably won't curl your toes in fear, but if you like mythological YA school series, this one can scratch a somewhat edgier itch.

~ Ana Mardoll
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VINE VOICEon October 8, 2014
This is a fun little book. I don't have children -- I'm a 44-year-old auntie who sometimes reads kids' and young adults' books. Sometimes I do it to get ideas for gifts for my nieces and nephews, but honestly, sometimes I just plain enjoy books meant for young readers.

I enjoyed this book, though it only took me about an hour to read. I'll probably try to get the rest of the series from the library rather than spend money on it, but I'll definitely read it. The characters are likable and believable (I especially love Pip and Squeak). When I was a kid, I loved scary books (John Bellairs was my favorite), and I think I would have loved this series.

This series would be a great choice for reluctant readers who are up to chapter books.
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on August 9, 2013
First off, bear in mind that this is a middle-grade, short novel. 160 pages. It won't have the depth of Harry Potter, for example (384 pages).

It also doesn't have true, mind-bending terror of the sort you'd expect in adult fiction. Why? Because it wouldn't be published if it did. Kids who want that, like I did at that age, will be reading adult horror.

Now that those things are out of the way, and our expectations are where they should be . . .

If you're a Lovecraft fan, and enjoy his ideas more than his purple prose and distant first person (is that possible? I guess so) narrative style, then you may find this very entertaining. If you want detailed descriptions of static scenes, you'll be disappointed. Gilman gives us just enough detail about settings to allow us to visualize using our own imaginations; he holds back from spelling everything out for us. He also uses very active prose, focusing on verbs and "showing, not telling" rather than using excessive adverbs and adjectives (Lovecraft's prose style). The result is a greater "experience" of the book for the reader, because the imagination is engaged and the momentum of the story is not interrupted with great wads of backstory (outside the first chapter) or comprehensive cataloguing of details that don't move the story along.

I was concerned, upon reading the summary and first chapter, that "Lovecraft Middle School" would be nothing but a dropped name. Happy day, it's not. The Mythos reigns supreme, in a MG-appropriate way, throughout the first and second books.

In contrast with the Goosebumps series, Gilman's books are generally well-written. While the characters are not developed with any significant depth (the greatest shortcoming, in my opinion), the dialogue tends to be believable; people do what they might reasonably do and behave how they might reasonably behave; and the overall story makes sense, allowing for suspension of disbelief.

The cardboard-cutout characters are really the main reason I give this 4 stars. For MG genre fiction, this is pretty good stuff. I'd recommend it as a great first introduction to the Mythos, or just a good spooky story.

This review is for the Kindle version.
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on March 17, 2017
Obviously I'm a little old for this type of book but sometimes you need an easy, fun read and that's just what this is! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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on March 26, 2015
I purchased this book to entertain my two grandsons, ages 11 and 9, but decided to read it before sharing it with them. It was interesting enough, had good characters, a number of surprises, and a satisfying end. But it didn't grasp the attention of my grandsons. They are more interested in books along the Percy Jackson thread.
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on January 7, 2014
This book was really good because it had mysteries that were solved and crazy things that were not too creepy for me. Also I liked all the drama in the book. I can't wait to read the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) :-)
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on February 27, 2013
It is an entertaining story leaving you wanting more. I will be sending these to my grand daughter to see what she thinks.
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on December 26, 2014
I enjoy most of the authors books and was a little disappointed because it was not like the others but good job
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on July 15, 2013
I got this for my grandsons. They liked the story but thought the picture on the cover was of a devil not a gargoyle. So we are working on getting the rest of the series viikkys.
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on May 16, 2015
My students love this set.
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