Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Short Death of Phineas Bean by Daniel Miller

Genre: MG fantasy
Pages: 233 (available in paperback or Kindle) See this book on Amazon
Published: 2011
Recommended for: younger readers who will enjoy a fun fantasy of epic and ghostly proportions
*I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review, and this has in no way affected my review*

Phineas Rigormortis Bean has
the unusual dilemma
of being the only living soul
trapped in the Afterlife.
he must rescue his
recently departed parents,
uncover the secrets of a cryptic amulet,
and reveal his family’s dark past. Welcome to the Spooky town of
Ghasterville, where grim reapers lurk
in graveyards and amusement park rides
are haunted by homeless poltergeists,
where death is not the end,
but the beginning of
an adventure.

Turning eleven was more
Than he bargained for. 

My Take: 

The Short Death of Phineas Bean is a ghoulish fantasy in the traditional coming-of-age sense, filled with wonderfully wacky and heartfelt characters as well as ghastly villains with terrible schemes.  The book is definitely aimed towards younger readers, around middle-grade age, but is no less enjoyable for it.  A clever cross somewhere between Neil Gaiman's book The Graveyard Book and the cult-classic Micheal Keaton movie Beatlejuice, this fast-paced and always entertaining novel will have readers turning through the pages at the tremendous speed of an undead buffalo. (Inside joke ;)

Our hero Phineas Bean is a gravedigger's son who has been surrounded by death all his life.  His mother's side of the family, the Rigormortis clan, are a wicked pair of uncles who lord over the family funeral home and treat Phineas and his family like grave dirt.  After a tragic accident involving the local theme park ferris wheel and his best friend, Jenny, Phineas wakes up to find himself... well, dead.  He and Jenny, who perished in the accident, embark on a journey to reach the inner sanctum of the Afterlife, where they are awaited by a host of ghosts and deceased people who inhabit their own strange world.  I adore the old movie Beatlejuice, and the clever jokes at the expense of the famous dead and ancient dead (including a talking Egyptian sarcophagus), immediately brought to mind that fun and pleasantly gory film.  Phineas soon learns he's not quite as dead as he thought and that he is in fact a Seer-- one of the rare living humans who can see ghosts and travel between the realms of the living and dead.  His parents have been taken captive by a mysterious ally of his evil uncles and he must wade through a world of deadly family secrets and otherworldly powers if he ever hopes to rescue them.  The ending, while temporarily satisfying, promises a second book in the Ghasterville trilogy and much more undead adventure still to come.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, short as it was compared to my usual reads.  The author writes with fast-paced prose reminiscent of the early Harry Potters and classic fantasy elements twisted to fit a new and enthralling kind of ghost story.

Cover: 5/5 (like the purple and the Tim Burton-esque drawing)
Premise: 4/5 
Characters: 3/5 
Plot: 4/5 
Overall Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

brandileigh2003 said...

That is a neat cover. I don't do MG a lot but it sounds like a good one.
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...