Nate is feeling helpless and depressed about moving. When his dad says he can pick out his own room, he bitterly says "Hurray for me...I finally get to have a say in this move." But what he finds in the tower room is beyond anything he expected. Nate is fascinated by the recordings a lost boy left behind and the cryptic hints of the girl next door and delighted when he begins to see some of the magical creatures Walt's recordings talk about. But events take a darker turn and Nate quickly realizes he's caught up in a war he doesn't understand with terrifying dangers. Will he triumph with the help of his new friends, or will he become lost like Walt?
The spooky black and white art gives the story both a chilling and a vintage feel. The flashbacks to Walt's story are bordered in black and even darker than Nate's story, showing the darkness that eventually takes over Walt. As the story progresses, it grows more complex including themes of community and forgiveness and the effects of difficult choices. Think of a creepy faerie story crossed with Toy Story with overtones of Kaza Kibuishi's Amulet series and that about covers it.
Verdict: Fans of Amulet and Bone will really love this one, and older fans will want to move on and read Holly Black's Neighbors trilogy (think teen) while younger fans may enjoy the lighter Sybil the Backpack Fairy if they're not quite ready for the darkness of this story. The black and white art and general lowering feeling of the story won't be for everyone, but kids who like fantasy adventure graphic novels will definitely want to read this.
ISBN: 9780439823319; Published September 2013 by Graphix/Scholastic; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Annual 2013; Purchased for the library