~ The next Angel of Death has been chosen…
Before his fourteenth birthday, ordinary Elijah Dart would have never gone snooping around in a graveyard, joined an old ghost for tea, or battled Hellhounds with a scythe. If only he hadn’t followed the Reapers through the graveyard on All Hallows Eve, he would have never been in training to take his father’s place as the next Angel of Death.
Before I share my thoughts on this book, if you haven’t checked out Jonathan’s and Aaron’s blog at http://husbandandhusband.net you really should. It’s one of my new favorite blogs thanks to their marvelous insights and their great sense of humor.
Elijah Dart is a curious mix of humor and darkness which Jonathan Ferrara blends together quite deftly. Using death as a central theme has been done by many authors with varying levels of success. Jonathan has taken this theme and added a uniqueness of its own, which I found refreshing. Elijah is such an appealing character, that what he goes through in the book really tugged at my heartstrings. Even before finding out his legacy, Elijah is a misfit. He’s just turned that awkward age of fourteen, his family lives next to a graveyard, and he doesn’t really have any friends. Even his two older brothers bully him. When you add to that mix, the discovery of his destiny, well you can definitely understand him freaking out a bit. But, he pulls himself together pretty quickly, and accepts the mantle which has been forced upon him. Helping him is a rather special dog named Grim. Their relationship provides some of the most humorous moments in the book. While they share a mutual disdain for one another in the beginning, the way their relationship develops is truly touching. The mythology behind the story is compelling and original and will appeal to teens and adults. Like the author’s previous book; The Blackwell Family Secret, it finds its basis in Christianity, but once again, the combination of religion and the supernatural makes the story even more interesting. Jonathan adds some intriguing twists which really had me thinking. What brings everything together are the family dynamics. Gregory and Helena Dart are phenomenal parents, even if Helena is a terrible cook, and they won’t let their kids participate in Halloween festivities. They adore all their children and are extremely supportive. Cory and Steven are Elijah’s older brothers and reminded me of slightly scarier versions of Fred and George Weasley. I kept referring to them as the “Gruesome Twosome” in my head! The youngest of the siblings is little Myra who shows herself to be wise beyond her six years at times. There’s also Grandma Dart, (who interjects her own brand of humor), and finally the mysterious Cousin Patricia, and her daughter Hayden. All these characters form a solid foundation behind Elijah in one way or another. Putting the finishing touches on this appealing story are Aaron Ferrara’s whimsical illustrations which begin each chapter. He also created the beautiful cover art. Jonathan packs an amazing amount of detail into a 128 page book, but it did leave me with some unanswered questions, so I can’t wait for the second book to come out. There were some grammatical errors and awkward turns of phrases, but they weren’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book. Young teens will identify with Elijah and be enchanted with his adventures. I also think adults who read YA fiction will enjoy this promising new book. I’m looking forward to reading more about Elijah in the second book; Elijah Dart: Carnival of Bones, due Fall 2015.