I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Clackity by Lora Senf. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In The Clackity, Evie lives with her Aunt Desdemona in a very haunted small town, so she’s used to strange occurrences. But when her aunt, the local paranormal expert, starts investigating the abandoned slaughterhouse, things get out of hand. That’s a building no one dares venture into, even in this town. Des goes missing, though, and so Evie decides to search for her. In the slaughterhouse, she encounters a mysterious and terrifying creature called the Clackity, who forces her into a deal—she can have her aunt back as long as she brings the ghost of Pope, a local serial killer, to the Clackity. So Evie finds herself thrown into a strange world, an underworld filled with spirits and danger, as she tries to harness her bravery to save her family.
This reminded me a lot of Coraline, and sometimes also of Gallant. The weird world in which the Clackity throws Evie is like the alternate dimensions of both those books, and also like the Upside Down. It’s bizarre and creepy, with really weird beings and challenges. The tone is sometimes almost whimsical, but most of the time pretty eerie and sinister. The characters Evie encounters, particularly the three witch sisters, are odd but kind of entertaining.
I found the antagonists kind of lacking, though. I mean, I did think Pope’s quiet but relentless pursuit of Evie through this dimension was really great. He’s an ominous presence, someone she’s both fleeing from and someone she needs to complete her mission. However, I also felt like I didn’t really know much about him, beyond that he’d killed people while he was alive and now he’s… being creepy. I could have used more backstory and motivation. Same goes for the Clackity. He’s frightening, sure, but I never had a clear idea of his goal.
That said, I liked reading about Evie’s growth. She’s rather anxious and timid by nature, and struggles a lot with fear and worry, so it was nice to see how supportive her aunt is. Moreover, the way she discovers inner strength and resilience as she breaks through obstacles is great to watch. And though Aunt Des isn’t in the story much in the beginning, there’s still a solid, strong foundation for her love for Evie. It’s easy to root for Evie when you see so clearly how she and her aunt are such a great family unit.
In the end, The Clackity was a decently spooky story. The settings are bizarre and unsettling, the tone chilling, and the action pretty exciting. I liked Evie a lot, but the villains were quite lacking. Still, this wasn’t bad at all, and middle graders who like Halloween will certainly enjoy this!
The Clackity is now available!