Messer, Stephen The Death of Yorik Mortwell, 173pgs. Random House New York, 2011. $15.99. Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
Yorik Mortwell is a young orphan who lives and works on the large estate of Ravenby Manor alongside his younger sister Susan. One day the torment inflicted upon him by the son of the manor goes too far and Yorik is killed. He awakens to find himself a ghost, and now must discover what his purpose is. Is he to exact revenge for his untimely death? Protect his sister from suffering the same fate? Or, perhaps, does he have a larger purpose? Does the fate of the Manor and all those who reside within rest with him and his ability to fight the dark forces that are beginning to converge and slowly destroy all that Yorik holds dear?
This is a clever pseudo-gothic novel that combines excellent storytelling with fantastic illustrations reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Readers will enjoy the mystery and humor surrounding Yorik and his attempts to haunt Master Thomas as well as the exploration of larger themes of forgiveness and committing to fighting a cause that may be bigger than you. The book may at times become a bit scary for younger readers, but overall the dark elements do not overwhelm. Yorik emerges as a hero that the reader will be happy to cheer on as the story evolves into a classic tale of good vs. evil.
EL/MS – ADVISABLE. AEB, Social Studies Teacher