Title: Graveyard Shakes | Author and Illustrator: Laura Terry | Publisher: Graphix | Pub. Date: 2017-9-26 | Pages: 208 | ISBN13: 9780545889551 | Genre: Kids Fantasy Graphic Novel | Language: English | Triggers: 2 child deaths, young boys | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library
Katia and Victoria are sisters and scholarship students at a private boarding school. While Victoria tries to fit in, Katia is unapologetic about her quirks, even though their classmates tease her. After a big fight, Katia runs away from school. And when Victoria goes looking for her, she accidentally tumbles into the underworld of a nearby graveyard. It is inhabited by ghosts, ghouls, and a man named Nikola, who is preparing a sinister spell that’s missing one key ingredient.
Victoria teams up with adorable Little Ghost and Nikola’s kindhearted son, and together they search for Katia. They must find her before she becomes Nikola’s next victim!
Graveyard Shakes Review
I give Laura Terry props for writing and illustrating Graveyard Shakes. I tend to always think that someone does the writing and someone else does the illustrations, so it’s a pleasant surprise to encounter otherwise. Graveyard Shakes is aimed at middle grade readers. It’s simply laid out, and easy to follow. Because there are two child deaths (neither graphic, pardon the pun), I would advise parents to pre-read it to see if it is suitable for their child.
The problem with Graveyard Shakes is, essentially, that it’s just kind of forgettable. Even my 8 year old said “Eh, it was good. Just not great” as soon as we finished it. (And she’s a graphic novel fiend.)The illustrations are nice, but not outstanding. The story is a bit darker than I’m used to seeing in a kids book, with two child deaths in it, but nothing that makes an impression. Immediately after finishing it, I went to write this review and realized that I’d already forgotten the older sister’s name. Considering we spend as much time following her as we do Katie and Little Ghost and Modie, that serves as an indicator to her character.
The pacing of Graveyard Shakes is fine. It’s broken up into three parts, with the majority of the book focusing on the second section. The dialogue is adequate, again forgettable, with not a single line I set aside for a quote. There is a cool scene involving a super ghost. The scene involving the second child’s death was very well done. It wasn’t witnessed on page, but inferred in a way that even young readers can understand.
This is Laura Terry’s debut work, and upon learning that, Graveyard Shakes‘ mediocrity makes perfect sense. This is a ‘safe’ story written by someone who definitely has ability, but hasn’t yet found her niche. Given time and a bit more experience, we may see something unique develop as she pushes her boundaries.