Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith

Middle grade is often accused of being predictable but there was nothing forceable about the mystery and adventure of this story. I genuinely hope that there is a sequel so I can spend more time with these characters.


When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world? from Goodreads.

In the far distance a spooky mansion is being struck by lightning in this sea-side down. A boy and girl walk warily away from the house.


The first book I read by Ronald L. Smith was Black Panther: The Young Prince. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick it. Since then, I have been meaning to grab all of his other books and I was so happy to find a copy of Gloom Town at my local library. This is the second time Smith’s storyline has been nothing like what I expected and for all the right reasons.

On the surface, the story of Rory striking out for work to help support his single Mom had me hoping that this would be one of those stories like A Little Princess. I just love when an elderly rich guy adopts a kid and teaches him magic while putting him in the lap of luxury. I should have known better…..or, you know, I could have read the book blurb. But, I enjoyed Smith’s prior book so much I just grabbed it and started reading! Not that I was disappointed – the creek factor in this book was deliciously high.

By the time Rory realizes that his boss is dangerous he leaves his work at the manor and returns to his Mother’s house. But, trouble follows him home. With the unwavering (and occasionally mysterious) support of his friend Izzy, he must face the danger at the manor as it spreads to the rest of the town.

Certainly the best thing about this story is the friendship between these two. Born on the same day and raised as neighbors, these two best friends are always looking out for one another. I loved that Smith wrote Izzy as the strength and muscle of the twosome. This friendship is the number one reason I want another book.

But the ending of this book, a whole chapter that answered some questions and gave me many more, leads me to believe that my hope for another book is in vain. Ah well, I simply must learn to live with dissapointment. Still, this book had a magical mystery that is sure to please!


I read this book for Believathon 3 for The Torn Page: Read a Book with a Supernatural Element. I thought it would be for the Spilled Milk (I assumed ghosts) but that is what you get for not reading the blurb!

Tell me please! Have you enjoyed this book?


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