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Review: Possessions, book two: The Ghost Table

Gurgazon, the world’s cutest pit demon, has settled into life at The Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities…if by “settled in” you mean “still tries to escape on a regular basis but is consistently thwarted by the implacable butler Mr. Thorne.” But a visit from Mrs. Llewellyn-Vane’s fellow collector and her zoo of ghostly creatures might offer a unique opportunity for Gurgazon and its fellow captives to find out more about what makes Mr. Thorne tick.

Possessions, book two: The Ghost Table
Ray Fawkes
Publisher’s Rating: Y/Youth/7+
GCFK Recommends: Ages 9-13; Grades 4-8
Oni Press, March 2011, ISBN 978-1-934964-61-3
80 pages, $5.99

If you haven’t read book one (Unclean Getaway), you can still pick up Gurgazon’s second adventure without being too lost, but why haven’t you read Possessions yet? Fawkes’ unique blend of humor and horror is a terrific read for older elementary school age through middle school, and even teens and adults who appreciate a good chuckle and some demon barf will find themselves snickering. Gurgazon is a pit demon who possesses the body of a five-year-old girl. Along with four other spirits, Gurgazon is part of the otherworldly collection of a sweet little old lady. The spirits pass their days trying to escape, but they are never able to get past Mr. Thorne.

Fawkes’ strong use of sarcasm is what makes his story work. Gurgazon’s dark pronouncements have no effect on Thorne’s stony facade or on Mrs. Llewellyn-Vane’s cheerful smiles, forcing the pit demon to resort to snide comments. Two of the other spirits–The Ice Field Lights and “Polly” the poltergeist–can be equally snarky, though the headless woman and the haunted jukebox are more enigmatic (it’s hard to talk when you have no head or you are forced to use song lyrics). Here in book two we learn more about where The Ice Field Lights came from, just as we learned Gurgazon’s origins in book one. Hopefully Fawkes will continue to expand on his characters in later volumes, because they are an intriguingly silly bunch.

The art is purposefully cartoonish, rendered in simple black-and-white with blue shading. Fawkes has a talent for bringing to life his characters’ emotions using only simple lines. His strong visual humor plays well with his written laughs. Nothing is inappropriate for teens and tweens, as long as barfing, ghosts, and comedic violence is acceptable in your collection. Though book two is not quite as funny as book one, new readers will soon become old fans and these fans will soon be clamoring for book three.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Oni Press.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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