Terwilliger’s Tombstone Terror: A Novella by Edward Petty

I find reviewing novellas and short stories a difficult task, especially when they’re very short. Terwilliger’s Tombstone Terror was a requested review, so I’m going to do my best. For the first half of the book, it seemed like a fairly decent read for young boys – perhaps 8-10 years old. Unfortunately, the second half of the book lost some of its steam.

The idea is solid. Two young boys meet at school and quickly become fast friends. Set in the 1950’s it’s got that wholesome vibe of books of that time. They have sleep overs, go to movies, band together against the school bully, and get a job at a cemetery. There’s good potential here but it’s missing the connecting thread. If the story had focused on the boys, it could have been really good, but these adult stories keep popping up for no apparent reason. The relationship between the butcher and his lady friend seems so out of place. It doesn’t fit with the flow of the story and it won’t appeal to the target audience. An omnipotent perspective doesn’t really make sense within the story. Third person is fine, but it should focus on the boys. The young boys I know would be turned off by this weird romantic story between two adults. The boys aren’t part of this scene. It completely threw me and I couldn’t get back into the flow of the book.

It also feels a little piecey. There’s a part of a story here and another part there and it doesn’t totally come together. Especially towards the end. I don’t understand the focus on specific to the exact minute time that was always used. The use of italics throughout the novel also didn’t make sense. Why are these words being highlighted? It feels like maybe there should be illustrations throughout the book, with these words highlighted in the images. That might work. I actually think this would work better as a chapter book sprinkled with illustrations.

I know I’m not the target audience, but I have that audience in my life. I’m not sure this is a book I would buy for them. It feels like a really good start to a book, but needs a little more focus with regards to the plot.


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