A few years ago I really enjoyed reading the darkly twisted fairy-tale of 'The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods' so I was so thrilled to see Samuel J. Halpin had written a new MG mystery-horror. 'The Midnight Switch' is a gripping page-turner with eerie and odd goings-on. Brace for spying rooks, a Bogwitch, puzzling messages and disturbing visions. With a story that twists and surprises, it's a thoroughly entertaining read for Halloween, written with mischief and Gothic glee.
When Lewis and his family move to Barrow, he doesn't think much of the stories at first. Until weird things start happening at midnight. Realizing they are in grave danger, Lewis and his new friend Moira must unearth old secrets and follow clues to break the curse. But the Bogwitch is stirring again...and she has eyes everywhere.
Samuel J. Halpin has a brilliant ability to conjure an unsettling atmosphere through a vivid setting and a sly sense of the sinister. Barrow is rendered in fullness, with its own intricate history, folklore, charm and weirdness. Everything is connected and everything is a clue to the central mystery. There is something Gothic and old-fashioned about Barrow, which makes it a great setting for spooks and strangeness.
But what I admired most about 'The Midnight Switch' is the real heart and soul that is developed between characters. Lewis and Moira make for a great and unusual friendship. Moira's entrance into the story is the incident that really propelled everything forward for me. Initially there is difficulty between them, but then a tenderness and loyalty blossoms between Lewis and Moira as they investigate what is happening to them, which then makes the ending so poignant. The relationship between Lewis and his dad is also brilliantly conceived; the expectations Lewis feels to live up to his dad's desires for him makes for additional tension and misunderstanding. In spite of the spooks, this disconnect with his dad is very real and well brought to life. Samuel J. Halpin has a deft skill of balancing the story on a knife edge of the mundane and macabre.
I really enjoyed 'The Midnight Switch' - it's a true bedtime smasher!
Thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy to review.