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Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift is a middlegrade fantasy novel by Chris Westwood.

Twelve-year-old Ben Harvester has always cared about people. That’s why when one of his strolls through London’s Highgate Cemetary, which he finds soothing and his mother calls morose, brings him across an older man that seems to be having some difficulty, he stops to help.

The man is rather odd however. He calls himself Mr. October and tells Ben he’s sorry to hear about his Aunt. Ben doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Until he gets home and watches as his mom gets the call about her sister’s death. Then he’s fascinated.

Trying to find Mr. October is harder than he thought, though. But once he does, Ben realizes that there is more to London than first meets the eye. Mr. October actually works for a secret organization called the Ministry of Pandemonium – and he wants Ben to be his new recruit.

Among the amazement and awe, Ben also comes face to face with the dark side of his new extracurricular activities – and finds out that there are those that believe he is working for the wrong side.

He may very well be in danger now…

My description is a little on the ambiguous side. The inside jacket cover gives more information, but as regular readers of the Bibliophile Support Group will know, I regularly don’t read them until I’ve finished the book. In my opinion, finding out what the organization is is a huge part of the fun of this paranormal fantasy-adventure. So, I left out the details. Hope you’re still interested!

Graveyard Shift is a gem. It’s so much more than I initially thought!

Ben is an artistic, kind-hearted, helpful boy living alone with his Mom who is a struggling waitress. Immediately he is likable and sweet, without being overly so. As his ordinary, simple life confronts the eccentric whimsy of the complicated supernatural world Mr. October introduces Ben to, things starts to get really fun and interesting.

At first I didn’t think it was the most original tale, but my opinion changed as the pages turned. I was more than willing to follow charming young Ben as he’s introduced to an entirely separate plane of existence doing what he loves most: helping others.

What really caused a metamorphosis in my estimation of Graveyard Shift was twofold: first off there is an incredibly morbid sense of dark humor that gives the novel a charismatic flavor, and secondly I was rather surprised to find that Graveyard Shift provided genuinely dramatic, emotional moments that gave it a touching core.

So, actually, Graveyard Shift is a unique read. In fact, with its comedy flare and classic feeling sensitivity, I would say that this novel is extremely readable by ALL ages! It’s memorable, special, and truly age-defying. I was won over by Graveyard Shift, and I think you might be too…

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