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Kids Book Review: The Death of Yorik Mortwell

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The Dealth of Yorik Mortwell
Random House Canada
age 8-12
Written by Stephen Messer; Illustrated by Gris Grimly
192 pages

Synopsis from Random House Canada:

Inspired by the artwork of Edward Gorey, Windblowne author Stephen Messer delivers a mock-Gothic tale about poor Yorick (alas!), son of the Gamekeeper at venerable Ravenby Manor, who meets an untimely demise—in chapter one! Worry not, dear reader, for Yorick returns in ghostly form, intent on revenge. In the course of his hauntings, however, ghostly Yorick discovers that all manner of otherworldy creatures inhabit the manor grounds, and that he has a part to play in saving not only his still-living orphan sister but also the manor and everyone in it.

Thanks to me, my kids enjoy reading dark tales, such as The Series of Unfortunate Events. I think that’s why The Dealth of Yorik Mortwell appealed to us. Nothing sets up a dark tale like having the main character, Yorik, die a tragic death at the end of the first chapter only to return as a ghost. Ghosts and spirits aside, The Death of Yorik Mortwell as an interesting take on good versus evil. The idea that dark ones, invisible to the living, fill our heads with negative thoughts speaks so well to the dual nature many of us have. Are you strong enough to fight these negative outside influences, that pray on our worries and guilt, making us act out in fear and jealousy?

We, as in my young readers and I, didn’t find The Death of Yorik Mortwell a scary book but it certainly brought us some interesting discussions about believing in yourself and the theme of the Devil on your shoulder. Even the world of magic and spirits can be affected by this negative world. It’s Yorik who helps the Princess realize this and who works with Yorik to fight the takeover of the Dark Ones. We really enjoyed this good versus evil storyline, especially when it looked as though evil was winning. It’s too bad the ending didn’t seem to live up to the rest of the story’s build. It was a little anti-clamatic and rushed. That being said, we certainly enjoyed the ride.

You can find a copy of The Dealth of Yorik Mortwell by visiting your local bookstore or Random House Kids. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

I have to thank Random House Canada for my review copy.

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