Misfit Mansion

Atheneum. Jul. 2023. 304p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781665903080. $14.99. ISBN 9781665903073.
Gr 5-9–Iris dreams of visiting her town’s Harvest Festival, but there are two catches. One, her caretaker doesn’t let anyone leave their home, and two, Iris and her fellow housemates are horrors: “ghosts, monsters, three-headed dragons, you name it.” (Iris’s own horror pedigree is a secret even to her.) Mr. Halloway swears he wants what is best for the young horrors, but Iris wonders if he’s keeping them out of the world instead of keeping them safe. When Mr. Halloway leaves for a trip, one of the kids from town breaks the spell on the home’s door, which opens the path for Iris and her friends to check out the Harvest Festival. Agnes, the older sister figure of the group, disapproves, but Kel, a plant-loving kelpie, is immediately intrigued by the vegetable stand at the festival. Mathias, the kid from town, and his monster-hunting aunt, have their own history with the creatures. The questions remain as to what is Iris’s true background and who is the horror that is haunting her dreams. Many of the characters have layered development, and even Mr. Halloway gets a chance to redeem his questionable choices. The story and art will appeal to fans of the animated show Steven Universe. The Harvest Festival is ultra cozy, and the monster interactions are just spooky enough for the age group. This graphic novel has clear themes of acceptance and trying to understand people who are different from you.
VERDICT Would make a strong fit for most juvenile graphic novel collections, especially those where gently spooky stories circulate well.

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