Westwood, Chris Graveyard Shift, 295 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2012. $17.99. Language: PG (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
Ben Harvester is a young man who likes to spend time in cemeteries. He likes sketching and drawing the interesting features of the graveyard and the solitude he finds there. One day he meets Mr. October and his life changes forever. Mr. October works for the Ministry of Pandemonium and offers Ben an apprenticeship. Ben is intrigued and after tagging along with Mr. October on a few assignments he begins to discover that this job is more than just fascinating, it’s a matter of life and death.
Ben becomes aware of a whole other world that exists right alongside his own as his eyes are opened to the ghosts, ghouls, and tortured souls that are begging for his help. When Ben makes the decision to join forces with Mr. October and the Ministry of Pandemonium in their efforts to guide the departed to the afterlife, he unwittingly involves himself in a dangerous war. Not everyone wants the souls of the dearly departed to find their way to peaceful rest. There are those whose interests lie in having those souls for their own ominous purposes. And when they become aware of Ben, nothing and no one is safe.
This book is an enjoyable read that is cleverly written and does a satisfactory job of mixing the supernaturally sinister with the story of a young teenage boy coming to grips with growing up in a world where nothing is certain. The characters are interesting and the author avoids turning them into clichés. There are moments of fear and sadness as the book is primarily about death, but nothing that is too disturbing.
MS/HS—ADVISABLE. AEB Social Studies Teacher