Substitute Creatures by Charles Gilman Review

GameStop, Inc.

by Jessica Greenlee
Staff Writer

Substitute-creatureSubstitute Creature takes the fine tradition of the isolated country house mystery, sets it in a middle school, and adds monsters for additional suspense. In this fourth book in the series, Lovecraft Middle School, located in Dunwich, Massachusetts, is again experiencing bizarre localized conditions. This time it is a heavy snow storm that sends most of the students home and isolates Robert, Glenn, and Karina at the school. Along with them are the local snob student, Lionel, Robert’s mother, the school’s crazy janitor and a suspicious substitute librarian, Mrs. Carcasse–a woman who does not seem to care when library computers are ruined. Karina, Robert, and Glenn have to figure out what Crawford Tillinghast is planning and how to stop him. The alternative is to end up dead or “imprisoned. In a very large and comfortable urn” forever.

As in previous books, Charles Gilman keeps the pacing taunt and the pages turning. There’s also plenty of humor (see large, comfortable urns and worm-ridden librarians named Mrs. Carcasse) and plenty of references for readers of H. P. Lovecraft to enjoy. Substitute Creature is also a tale of friendship with Glenn and Robert taking risks for each other, and a story of navigating middle school. The pair don’t just have to deal with monsters, they have to figure out how to cope with having rich, snobbish Lionel as a classmate and how to handle Valentine’s Day. Just to add to the complications, Tillinghast, the man behind all the troubles, shows and offers Robert a bargain, and, unlike many would-be evil overlords, he knows how to make a genuinely tempting offer. The outcomes of their conversation are going to be felt over future books.

Substitute Creature offers the fun and scares of the previous books and moves the Master’s plot one step forward in an unexpected direction. Recommended for middle school students and up who enjoy a dose of horror, some adventure, and a good tale of friendship.

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