Book: THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING
Author: Alexandra Bracken
TWs: Blood, talk of murder (non-graphic), and violence.
MG, YA, or Other: Middle Grade
I received an ARC from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
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?
When I first requested this book, I was under the impression that this was YA book. It was a pleasant surprise to discover it’s actually a middle grade book that follows 12 year old Prosper Redding, a family curse, and his literal demon, well, malefactor.
Bracken does a fantastic job with the setting of this story. The first few chapters take place in Redwood, a small northeastern town that was built by Prosper’s family, the Reddings. If you’ve seen the movie Dark Shadows, the Redding’s feel very much like the Collins and Redwood feels like Collinswood- both full of the family the founded them and the secrets they try to keep. The majority of the book takes place in Salem right around Halloween and even though it is currently July, I felt like I was being swept away by a fall wind as I read this.
There are a lot of Hocus Pocus feels in this book. Remember when the Sanderson sisters discover the paved road? Or the scene with the lighter? Take the magic of those ancient witches discovering all the things they’ve missed and apply it to this book. I was delighted at the image of a 4000 year old demon walking around in a 12 year old human boy’s body discovering traffic lights (“Speak to me, great blinking light! Show me your truths!”), pulling a pumpkin flag down to wear as a cape (because orange is the color of royalty), and trying to eat plastic spiders. Beyond that, there is the simple magic and spells that remind me of all the great, cheesy Halloween movies from my childhood.
Since the book definitely ended on a note that leaves this wide open for a sequel, I really hope Bracken explores the Redding family dynamic, and Prosper and twin sister, Prue, have an opportunity to bond and grow closer. I’m also excited to see how Alastor (or Al the Malefactor) grows as a character. While he is definitely devious, we also see a softer side of this character when he talks about how he couldn’t stand to see the hobs lose their horns and the remorse he felt after his nannyhob was punished for something he did. While he claims he hates Honor Redding, there is an undercurrent that he felt more betrayed by Honor than anything else and there hints that the two actually might have been friends- a friendship he seems reluctant but unable to stop extending to Prosper.
I cannot WAIT to have a finished copy of this book on my shelves.
Would I recommend this? Absolutely! If you’re looking for a nostalgic Autumn/Halloween book, this is the one for you!