Edelweiss, Fiction, Kidlit, Loved-it

Are You Ready For Good Halloween Stories Yet? The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules by Gerald Killingworth, ★★★★☆ 4 stars

If you’re looking for a rather quick, but very engrossing read, The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules is definitely the book for you. It’s a middle grade adventure that will appeal to kids, teens and adults alike – it was a read of two evenings for me, and it really did leave an impression! The book has a very specific vibe that I’ve previously found in a few Halloween-style middle grade stories, and it’s an aesthetic I enjoy very much!

The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules by Gerald Killingworth

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★★★★☆ 4 stars
How I read this:
free review copy through Edelweiss

Edwin genuinely hates his new baby sister and thinks she’s a real usurper. And what were his parents thinking anyway, getting an icky, slobbering, screaming baby instead of a pool for him to spend his summers in? Edwin will certainly give them a hard time for this.

But at the same time, Edwin’s bored. And so he accidentally makes the oddest friend ever. His name is Lanthorne, and he comes from some weird world that’s behind *some* of the doorways you pass through – but only if you’re lucky (or unlucky…) Because Lanthorne’s world… Sucks.

The world Lanthorne Ghules, Edwin’s new friend, lives in literally stinks of the worst smells possible. It is devoid of almost any color and light, and monsters are real in it. Despite that, Lanthorne is nice and a friend is a friend. But what will happen if Edwin accidentally stumbles into Lanthorne’s world? Probably, something tragic. Spoiler? Definitely something tragic. And Edwin will have to find out just how far he is willing to go in order to fix his now increased family.

It’s Kind Of Scary!

dark horizon

Quite likely an approximation of the world Lanthorne comes from – a black and white horizon with dark clouds in the sky, a crumbling abbey-sort of building in the background and broken down grave stones all around it (image courtesy of Tim Hill from Pixabay)

From the very start the picture of Lanthorne’s world is quite disconcerting! Wow, I would NOT want to end up there. It’s dark, it’s incredibly smelly (the people there only ever eat rotten food!!) And anyone you meet is impossible to be trusted. Someone who isn’t robbing or punching you is to be considered a gentleman of the highest rank! Keeping in mind all this, the permanent coldness and darkness are probably only slight inconveniences, compared to everything else.

Do you want to visit a dark, creepy and dangerous world where ghouls live? Neither do I! But I'll read a book about it and count my blessings: Click To Tweet

…And We Should Count Our Blessings

Lanthorne’s world is a truly scary one and it had me shivering! At the same time, it draws parallels with our world. Edwin is what you could call a privileged kid – he has two parents, a loving nice home, enough entertainment, hot wonderful food under his nose every night. But you know what? He doesn’t value it. More than that, he feels so entitled to it, he sputters with anger and raises his hackles when he isn’t given what he thinks has always been his – the attention that his baby sister now receives.

By meeting his new friend from a drab, dark world, Edwin begins to see how great his life has always been and how blind he’s been to it.

Isn’t this what we all do? This is what the “first world problems” meme is about. Reading this book, I thought about this often – and I thought about how I’m also guilty of this to some degree.

Every time I lose my temper because my plans fall through or there’s something unexpected down the road, I feel very wronged. But am I? Or am I being like Edwin, who, compared to Lanthorne, is living in what could essentially be called paradise, and yet is still lashing out against his circumstances?

Something to think about for sure.

How much do we take for granted, when we shouldn't? This middle grade fantasy made me remember to count my blessings and value the world I live in: Click To Tweet

Great World Building

But aside from being a scary world, it is truly well written. Everything in Lanthorne’s world came to life – as dead and drab as it was! This book reminded me of Grimworld, another fictional middle grade setting from a book I read last year. In Grimworld, what you have is a relatively similar world – dark, with monsters and evil people, careless adults – and yet, everything in it is more colorful and less hopeless. Meanwhile, Lanthorne’s world is so sad and lonely that it makes you notice how good it is to live in ours. So both books have an interesting picture of the same kind of fantasy world – one more optimistic, the other more pessimistic.

I have to say though, for fans of stories like this I strongly recommend Grimworld! Both these books had a very similar theme – something bad happens to kids, it’s pretty serious, and none of the adults have a clue about what’s happening, so the kids have to sort it out themselves. It’s a great middle grade story form and I’ve always liked these kinds of stories.

A Good Pace

The story was pretty tense! (And dark.) By the end I couldn’t contain myself and worried about the characters quite a lot. It’s a fast read as well, took me about two evenings. There was not a single moment in the book that I was bored or wanted to put it down, so it has just the right kind of pace.


I definitely enjoyed this tale of another world, and I think it would make for a perfect Halloween read. It’s good to remember how good we have it and how we sometimes forget it!

Are you ready to read a good, creepy middle grade tale? Face the goosebumps! The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules, ★★★★☆ 4 stars: Click To Tweet

I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

Have you read any good, otherworldly middle grade books recently?

The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules by Gerald Killingworth

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