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Starred review from July 3, 2017
Every family has its secrets, but not every family has a secret pact with a demon. In a promising series opener, Bracken (Wayfarer) kicks off the darkly delicious story of Prosperity “Prosper” Redding and his powerful family’s efforts to protect its legacy. Hapless, unpopular Prosper and his twin sister, Prue, are on the cusp of turning 13 when their frosty grandmother holds an impromptu family reunion, with nefarious intent, while the children’s parents are away. Soon after, Prosper is whisked to a haunted house in Salem, where he learns that his body and mind are entangled with a fiend named Alastor (“I know all of thy fears, thy desires, thy jealousy—where thou hides thy collection of small porcelain ponies,” the demon informs him). The story’s mysteries, which involve the fates of multiple dimensions of reality, unfold slowly enough to build anticipation but quickly enough to keep readers furiously flipping pages. Prosper shows tremendous growth (his testy interactions with Alastor may remind some readers of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books), Bracken’s cast is drawn in loving detail, and her twisty plot will keep readers guessing. Ages 8–12. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House.
September 1, 2017
Gr 5-9-A long time ago, during the Salem witch trials, Honor Redding promised a fiend named Alastor the eternal servitude of everyone in his line in exchange for unimaginable wealth. Instead, Honor outwitted the fiend and reneged on the deal. Now Prosper Redding, Honor's modern-day descendant, is possessed by Alastor, and it's up to the teen and his family to vanquish the demon. With the help of some "black sheep" in the family, Prosper must figure out a way to break the curse. Alastor, however, has other ideas. Can the young man survive his family curse long enough to break it? Unique and humorous, the plot is filled with fantastical mystery and paranormal elements. The main characters, including the villain, are likable and flawed. The author's smooth transitions and delightful writing style will draw readers into the story with ease. This is a must-read for fans of Bracken and paranormal mysteries. VERDICT A first purchase for middle school audiences.-Kira Moody, Salt Lake County Library Services
Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
July 15, 2017
The consequences of a centuries-old bargain fall on Prosper Redding. The Reddings, premier WASP family of the posh Massachusetts town of Redhood, are rich, talented, and successful--except for 12-year-old Prosper, a bullied D student. On Founder's Day, the extended family gathers, taking twins Prosper and Prue to the dungeon basement of their family estate for an odd ceremony that ends in an attack on Prosper. Rescued by a stranger, he wakes to learn that his rescuer is his disgraced uncle, Barnabas Redding. Aided by his witch daughter, biracial, bronze-skinned Nell (whose identity goes largely unplumbed), Barnabas has hidden Prosper from the Reddings. Barnabas and Nell tell Prosper of a complicated mythology (it involves four realms: of humans, spirits, fiends, and ancients) and explain that in 1693, Honor Redding made a deal with a type of fiend called a malefactor in exchange for family prosperity. A later attempt to break the contract went wrong, enabling the malefactor--Alastor--to be reborn, trapped in Prosper. Alastor waits, gathering his strength to escape for vengeance on the Reddings--which Prosper must prevent. Alastor's supernatural threats aside, Prosper thrives in hiding, out from the Redding shadow. From time to time, sometimes conveyed in third-person breaks in Prosper's narration, the entertaining Alastor possesses Prosper, leading to comedic moments as he adjusts to the modern world. The betrayal- and twist-packed conclusion sets up the sequel. Strong characters and humor lift an otherwise slow and complicated plot. (Fantasy/horror. 9-14)
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Starred review from August 1, 2017
Grades 4-7 *Starred Review* For generations, the Redding family has enjoyed uncommonly good luck. Wealthy, successful, and charismatic, the family has it made, right down to popular 12-year-old Prue, who miraculously recovered from a severe heart condition. Her twin brother, Prosper, though, is unextraordinarythe only normal Redding in centuries. Of course, Prosper never thought that the family's luck was anything other than, well, luck, and maybe the result of the machinations of his intense, overbearing grandmother ( It wasn't that me and Prue hated our grandmother. It was just that we thought she might be the Devil in a dress suit ). So Prosper is just as surprised as anyone to learn that he has a 4,000-year-old demon living inside himand that the demon, Alastor, is responsible for the Reddings' luck. Prosper's many-greats-grandfather broke the contract with Alastor, and now Alastor is out for revenge. Now Prosper's rushing to break the curse with the help of his long-lost uncle and witch-in-training cousin, while Alastor, who has some demonic problems of his own, keeps trying to trick him into a contract. Bracken's (Passenger, 2016) new middle-grade offering is an infectious, entertaining series starter. Hapless, dry Prosper is at hilarious odds with his demanding, old-fashioned demon companion, and the thrilling plot twists will keep even the most savvy readers guessing. Clever, occasionally frightening, and always fun, this will hook plenty.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)
PublisherDisney Book Group
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