Our story begins with a frustrated female lead named Charlotte, whose own endearing cynicality redeems her. She is an underachiever, a brilliant liar, and appears unphased by the news that her cousin Zee will be coming from England to live with her family. But when the boy in question arrives he drags a mysterious illness with him which soon infects Charlotte's school and everyone she holds dear. Meanwhile, in the Underworld, Hades has banished a rabble rouser by the name of Philonecron, who goes by even the more ominous title of Phil.
Once exiled to the barren plains of the creatively named land of Exile, Phil (diabolically) begins to raise an army of shadow children to overtake the Underworld knowing fully that it is only by the blood of Zee, Charlotte's cousin, that the shades can be commanded. Sapping the boy's strength whilst Zee is unaware, Phil begins the chain of events that leads to a secret mall passageway, harpies, and a frustrated Charon (ferry guy for the River Styx).
I was, admittedly, confused by the writing style, which is a rather unique form of narration involving "audience" participation. But the humor proved humorous and did not fall flat (nothing like a bad joke to ruin your afternoon). The characters develop spines through the course of events and you find yourself actually liking them despite first impressions. Unfortunately, it rides its humorous tone for far too long and takes up half of its precious pages with background information. All the same, the second half of the book is the novel equivalent of forgiveness.
The verdict is in and I rate this as a strong 5 out of our up to 7 scale.
Dreaming about slaying harpies,