“The League of Beastly Dreadfuls” (The League of Beastly Dreadfuls #1) by Holly Grant & illustrations by Josie Portillo
Genre: Children, Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Fiction
Page Length: 320 pages (hardcover edition)
Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape! (description from Goodreads)
This is my first children’s book review ever and it’s also the first children’s book I’ve read in a long time. Overall I loved the story and the entire concept. It was a fun novel with just the right amount of spooky stuff, giving the book a mysterious aura.
Our main protagonist, Anastasia, is whisked away by sinister ladies claiming to be her aunts and soon she learns the old asylum she’s living in is full of terrible secrets that are unraveled throughout the story. There is a constant feeling suspense in the novel which will keep young readers on their toes, but is not so heavy or dark that it’s not enjoyable. Grant’s goal is to make the story eerie, but keeps it light and adventurous.
Anastasia learns that she must leave the mansion when she learns about the aunts’ evil intentions and she becomes motivated to create an elaborate escape plan inspired by her favorite heroine Francie Dewdrop (that is much like Nancy Drew) with the help of friends Ollie and Quentin. And as I was reading, I noticed that the book reads like a Nancy Drew novel, which was one of my favorite series growing up.
I liked the switch between Anastasia’s and the narrator’s point-of-view. I also appreciated the narrator’s voice being a huge part of the storytelling process. I felt like anytime he/she spoke it was part of the story rather than overshadowing everything that was happening. I think this book would also make an excellent audio book with the right voice actor since the narration is done so well.
The illustrations are also quite lovely too. They match up perfectly with the events in the story. The drawings are simple, but help readers with visualization and spark their imaginations even further.
A great start to a new series. Just the right amount of fantasy mixed into the real world!