By Awnali Mills
Marcus O’Mara is pretty brave. He certainly doesn’t hesitate to stand up to a teacher who is bullying a fellow classmate. But bravery will only get him so far when weird stuff starts happening to him that nobody else can see, stuff that’s keeping him in trouble with both his teachers and his parents. This old woman keeps showing up and ordering him to “surrender the key.”
But Marcus is both brave and determined to stop this weirdness. He starts piecing things together (even if his sleuthing gets him in hotter water with his parents), and begins to figure out what’s going on. He accidentally learns how to enter The Library where weird stories that need endings are kept. There he learns that he has a job to do—a job that just might end him. Forever.
So, even though I’m not a big one for scary stories, this is the first of The Library series. The Library, people. I can’t not read that, right? And besides, scary stories are eternally popular around here. This was a pretty good one*.
Marcus is often on the wrong side of authority, but his intentions are usually good. He and his parents are going through a rocky time, and I think a lot of kids will relate to that. He is also resourceful and determined, even when he’s terrified. He has two good friends that he eventually confides in who promise to be great characters in upcoming books.
MacHale promises that this is the first of a series, but that once you’ve read the first one, you can read any of the others out of order. The first book establishes the characters and setting, but the future books will be complete stories in and of themselves. I always appreciate that in a series, because I can give kids any that are in and it will be okay. Naturally, you can put this in the hands of kids who like scary stories, the supernatural, or kids who are at odds with authority.
*Arachnophobes, be aware that there is a scary spider scene that will totally creep you out.