Embassy of the Dead

Candlewick/Walker. Sept. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536210477.
Gr 4-7–When the world of the dead is coming for you, what do you do? Twelve-year-old Jake thought he had a lot on his shoulders dealing with his parents’ divorce. But one afternoon, Jake is mistaken for the wrong living human by ghostly undertaker Stiffkey, who hands him a mysterious box and vanishes. Naturally curious Jake opens the box, which holds the severed finger of a dangerous Reaper, and brings down a terrible fate upon both himself and Stiffkey—banishment to the Eternal Void. Jake, Stiffkey, an assortment of unlikely ghosts, and their human allies set off on an adventure to secure the finger, save themselves, and stave off the power-thirsty Reaper seeking to be reunited with his finger to enable world (and afterworld) domination. While clearly replete with ghouls and ghasts of all stripes, this British import is creepy but never too scary, and packed with laughs. Occasional excerpts from ghostly guide The Book of the Dead catalog different types of spirits, and enticingly expand the world of this series-starter for curious readers.
VERDICT Recommend for readers looking for a quick-paced, just-spooky-enough romp.

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