Have You Seen the Darkness?

Pixel+Ink. (Black Sand Beach: Bk. 3). Jun. 2022. 192p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781645950912; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781645950929.
Gr 3-7–Dash and his friends use their brains to outsmart face-stealing monsters at Black Sand Beach. His dad, stepmom, and a dedicated monster hunter try to help, too. Humor brings everyone to life, as when Andy launches a cookie into his own mouth with a slingshot. Lighthearted touches make the creepy scenes even darker by contrast, which is especially true during two sequences that take place in an all-black nightmare setting. Fairgray’s use of perspective and detail lends power to the monsters, whether they crash through the foreground or slither a tentacle along the background. Body language and small gestures, like flicking a pencil into the ocean, carry a lot of weight. A sci-fi gadget the kids invent is used in creative ways. Stylized chapter pages that are repeated in reverse and negative colors maintain an unnerving atmosphere throughout.
VERDICT The horrors become darker and more dangerous, but there are still chuckles to be found. Will work best starting from the first book.

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