The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken
Published by Disney-Hyperion on September 5, 2017
Genres: Children’s, Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 362 Format: Hardcover Source: Purchased
Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.
While I’d only previously read one of Alexandra Bracken’s previous books, I was thrilled to pick up her new middle grade The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding. I’m constantly pulled in by supernatural occurrences and fall settings so this one made for a perfect October read. With a hint of mystery, some dastardly demons, and a young boy trying to find his way, I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
Prosper was an absolute gem of a character. He totally made this book for me with his humor and kindness. Prosper may struggle to fit in but he’s got such a big heart. Alastor was an excellent foil for him though. His pushiness and evil streak are only a piece of the puzzle and the two of them make strange bedfellows. I also really liked Nell. She’s abrupt and closed off but trying to do her own thing.
Also the story itself has a lot going for it. There’s deals with devils and overbearing families bent on revenge, feelings of being an outcast and making your mark in life. There’s even an adorable catbat named Toad. The supernatural stuff is tremendously fleshed out, and it never felt like an info dump. Plus who doesn’t love a good adventure in Salem, right?
The writing in this one was so well done. Bracken manages to weave the difficulties of life with the supernatural and still make it funny. From Alastor’s many ridiculous and old fashioned taunts and jeers to the every day snark I expect from kids, there’s laughs on every page. At one point Prosper is flouncing around with an orange cone as a hat while Alastor is in control. It honestly made my day.
Overall The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is a wonderful middle grade filled with mystery and magic. The character were a delight to read about and I love the central themes of family and fitting in. It’s the perfect kind of spooky and reminds me of Halloweentown in a lot of ways. I definitely recommend this one especially to all those who love autumn.
Have you read The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding? Do you enjoy spooky or scary books?
Let me know in the comments below!