Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #2: The Slither Sisters
by Charles Gilman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #2: The Slither Sisters / 1594745935
"Slither Sisters" picks up as the second in this series after "Professor Gargoyle", and I do feel like this installation in the series is even stronger than the first. As a brief recap of the series as a whole: Everyman YA Protagonist Robert Arthur lives in a world much like ours (minus anyone ever having heard of H.P. Lovecraft), except that Cthulhus and Shoggoths are using his middle school as a dimensional vortex for passing between worlds. The series relies heavily on Lovecraftian monsters, but doesn't delve as much into the tone and themes (presumably because this isn't meant to emotionally scar the targeted audience).
"Professor Gargoyle" ended with the revelation that the two missing twins -- Sarah and Sylvia Price -- have "returned" but are really Lovecraftian monsters in human form. "Slither Sisters" picks up from that revelation with the announcement that the girls are running for student body president and, if successful in their campaign, will use their position to kidnap more students for a body exchange. The plot summary sounded a little twee to me, but to its credit the book really manages to make middle school politics something engaging and interesting to get into, possibly because Lovecraftian monsters are summoned left and right to liven things up.
Additionally, there's a lot of new character development around girlfriend Karina and school librarian Ms. Lavinia and I found those side-developments to be genuinely engaging. Everyman Robert Arthur tends to be just-barely-not-bland for me (although younger and/or male readers may feel differently), but fleshing out Karina's existential angst and Ms. Lavinia's unexpectedly horrifying existence went a long way towards guiding this series back to more Lovecraftian themes of isolation and terror, so well done there. Finally, I loved the concluding chapters of this novel. It's very rare for a YA novel to genuinely surprise me these days, and I was taken completely off-guard by the ending and was absolutely delighted.
And I forgot to mention this in my review of "Professor Gargoyle", so I'll mention it here: I own the Kindle version for both these books and am very impressed with the formatting. The pictures are lovely, and the chapter headings are a very nice touch. There's even drop-caps here and there when appropriate, and it's nice to see a publisher treat the Kindle version right. Kudos.
NOTE: This review is also based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine. (I received the ARC, and then purchased the Kindle version.)
~ Ana Mardoll