Author: Charles Gilman
Genre: Lovecraft!, MG, horror, tough stuff, sci-fi
Publication Date: September 25, 2012 (Quirk/Random House – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Every volume in the Lovecraft Middle School series is fully illustrated and features an original lenticular portrait on the cover. Display them on bookshelves—and then watch the cover characters morph into monsters as you pass by!
In Professor Gargoyle, we’re introduced to 11-year-old Robert Arthur and the strange world of Lovecraft Middle School. It’s a brand-new state-of-the-art facility—so why do so many creepy things keep happening? Why is the science teacher acting so strangely? And where are all the rats coming from?
As Robert explores with his new friends Glenn and Carina, he discovers that the school may be a portal to another world.
☆: 3/5 stars – a good way to introduce your MG-aged kid to Lovecraft, but otherwise a bit disappointing.
Review: This is a great book to introduce young to mid-Middle Grade readers to the Lovecraft mythology. In “Professor Gargoyle”, there’s a lot going on – very tame and age-appropriate horror, but this book also deals with some “tough stuff” issues – being new to a school, bullying, and more. However, I do think for the age group (middle school) its target in terms of tone and writing is a little too immature, which really kind of brought things down quite a bit for me. Still, “Professor Gargoyle” is a fun read, but just don’t expect too much out of it.
When I say “immature” in tone, I mean that even though Gilman was aiming for young middle school students (perhaps 6th grade?), the tone he used for narration felt aimed at someone much younger. Combine that with the illustrations, and this felt like a book for a young MG reader – in 4th or 5th grade, not someone near young YA. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just feels like when pitching, the author just misidentified where his book should go in the age group part of things. The tone and narration (where it switches between 3rd omniscient and close, which wasn’t too great) really reflect that, so it made it a bit hard for me to concentrate on this one. I guess that’s my biggest problem with this book, and thus brought down my enjoyment a bit.
The illustrations, however, were fantastic. I loved those.
However, I do have to hand it to Gilman – this is a great way to lure kids into the Lovecraft/Cthulhu mythos. It’s very detailed, and a great, safe horror story for the age group, and it will definitely leave them wanting more. You could say this is a gateway drug for the Lovecraft mythos – and Gilman does a great job recrafting it and mixing in the tough stuff issues of being alone and starting a new school (and middle school, for that matter) and bullying to make a really fun, fast-paced scary book.
What I also kind of wanted more of (since this is going to be a series) was a little bit more depth concerning the characters. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Harry Potter, Narnia, and Percy Jackson, but I’ve come to expect more depth to all of my characters in a MG book, period, and I feel like this area really could have been worked on more. Hopefully in future books, this will be fixed a bit better.
Otherwise? I had fun with this book, and it’ll be good for younger kids to introduce them to sci-fi and the Lovecraft mythos. “Professor Gargoyle” is out now from Quirk/Random House in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!