THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING, by Alexandra Bracken, Disney-Hyperion, Sept. 5, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
From the moment The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding arrived on my doorstep, I wanted to read it. The cover just begs you to open it.
At the center of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is — you guessed it — Prosper Redding. Prosper is the only Redding who isn’t exceptional. And for a family that goes back as far as the Reddings, that’s saying something. He sort of a thorn in everyone’s side until the family discovers there’s a demon living inside of him. Then, they sort of want him dead.
It turns out a long, long, long time ago, Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. The problem is, Prosper’s grandfather broke the contract, and Alastor (the demon) isn’t too pleased.
Now Alastor has reawakened inside Prosper’s body — his sole purpose to destroy the Reddings. Prosper only has days send Alastor back to the demon realm, and he must do it with Alastor trying to thwart his every effort. But even though his family is no help, Prosper isn’t alone. With the help of his long-lost uncle, Barnabas, and his daughter, Nell, a witch-in-training, Prosper may just have a chance.
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is Alexandra Bracken’s first foray into middle-grade, but it feels like she’s been writing for middle readers for years. The author of the popular Darkest Minds and Passenger series slips easily into the genre. If anything, I felt like middle-grade conventions forced Bracken to tighten her prose and hone her pacing. She provides the perfect framework for imaginative reading at its best.
The release of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is perfectly timed for the fall season. It’s got just the right mix of creepiness and dark humor to really stand out. This is the first book in a planned series, and I’m excited to see where Bracken goes with it.
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