Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Phantom Tower

Graff, Keir. The Phantom Tower
August 21st 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Mal and Colm move with their mother from Texas to Chicago after the car accident death of their father. Their mother has a new position as an administrative assistant for Professor Parker at the University of Chicago. He had suggested they look into renting an apartment at Brunhild Tower, where the rooms are large if run down, and rents are cheap. Brunhild Tower is an old building with lots of interesting nooks and crannies, and when Mal decides to make a map of the building in the video game world where he spends a lot of time, the boys go to investigate. They try opening the doors to apartments, many of which are empty, so that they can add to the map. The accidentally meet the Princess, an older woman who invites them in to tea and warns them that they should not be out and about during lunch time. Colm finds out one reason why-- between 1 and 2 p.m., the elevator shows a 13 floor, and when he travels there, he sees a lot of fading spirits of people from the past. The twins meet neighbor Tamika, who helps them with their investigating, and the ghostly Teddy, who died in the 1930s. Summer is long and hot, and traveling to the Phantom Tower is an interesting way to spend some time each day, but the children want to find out why there is another dimension. Finding out this leads to an even greater mystery as well as a situation that must be dealt with in involving the professor and some deaths at the time the tower was opened. Can the children figure out what is going on and put things to rights?
Strengths: I adore books with magical places (The Greenglass House, The Children of Green Knowe, The Castle in the Mist), and the back story and Chicago setting make this a lot of fun. Also a big fan of children having a magical hour that no one else has. The twins complement each other and have a realistic, antagonistic relationship, and Tamika and Teddy both play off against them nicely. Bit of a twist on a moving story, which was good. The plot with the professor is surprisingly... evil? Not quite, but shows the lengths to which people will go to stay with a loved one, even when it's not a good idea.
Weaknesses: This is a well constructed, amusing story. Not many weaknesses with the book, but I'm just not sure I have the readers for it.
What I really think: This is definitely a stronger novel than The Matchstick Castle, but the cover is a little young, and my fantasy readers still want more adventure and fighting. I'll see what this year's group is like before purchasing.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. A haunted apartment building is a different twist on the genre. You pretty much had me at Chicago and architecture, and the ghosts and other dimensions are a bonus!