This month, my book club The Story Voyagers decided to read something a little more spooky in the run-up to Halloween. We picked recent release The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, a middle-grade book that came out on September 5th.
Here’s what the book is about:-
Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?
I’m really glad my book club picked this one! I don’t tend to read a lot of middle-grade as I often feel too old for it but this was a really fun read, perfect for this time of year. I loved the characters; Prosper was an endearing narrator and Alastor provided a lot of unexpected comic moments. Everyone had a backstory meaning no-one was a 2-dimensional cardboard cut-out. Prosper and Nell both had issues going on and I really like that the author gave them some more emotional problems to deal with alongside the story’s main plot. For a middle-grade read, it had quite deep levels of emotional meaning!
The inclusion of various magical creatures was super fun and I loved Bracken’s take on fairies, witches, etc. And I have to mention the setting! It was almost like a character in itself (something I always love in books). The author really managed to capture that small-town vibe and I felt totally transported; I love reading about small-town America as it is but even more so when the action takes place during October! The whole thing reminded me of the movie Hocus Pocus, especially when Alastor was trying to find his way around the 21st century and eating plastic spiders! Great fun.
The whole concept of a ‘deal with the devil’ is far from original, yet the book didn’t feel boring or as if it was hashing over something that had been done before. For a middle-grade book, it didn’t feel dumbed down and was a very enjoyable read. Aside from the brutal cliffhanger, that is!
I gave this one 4/5 stars as I’m pretty sure it won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it!
Has anyone else read this one? Or any of Alex Bracken’s other books? Or even Faust?!