The Clackity by Lora Senf
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 28th, 2022
Hardcover. 288 pages.
About The Clackity:
"Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.
There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie must embark on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls."
The Clackity is a horror-tinged middle grade fantasy story that I absolutely loved. It had the perfect mix of spooky, creepy, hopeful, and quirky elements to capture the attention of pretty much any age.
The Clackity follows Evie von Rathe who now lives with her Aunt Desdemona in Blight Harbor after her parents went missing four years earlier. Blight Harbor is the seventh-most haunted town in America–and also one of my new favorite fictional towns. Aunt Desdemona is considered a paranormal expert in the town of Blight Harbor and regularly writes articles and investigates the paranormal, as well as answers a column where people write in to ask all about their paranormal woes (you know, like what you’re supposed to do when you can’t get a ghost to move out of your home!). One day, Aunt Desdemona goes missing after visiting the mysterious abandoned slaughterhouse that Evie has been forbidden to enter. Of course, Evie decides she has to go find her aunt because she refuses to let yet another family member go missing and thus begins a dark, unpredictable, and disturbing journey through the shadowy depths of the slaughterhouse, where Evie enters a place that is both familiar and anything but.
Evie is a true delight of a character and I absolutely adored her as we followed her on this terrifying and unpredictable journey. Evie appears to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, and I related to this quite a lot and I really enjoyed seeing her using different techniques to try to calm herself down whenever she was confronted with a particularly frightening or difficult challenge. It was also really nice to see her as a very self-aware character who is constantly aware of and mindful of her own health, safety, and general wellbeing. She was also always very concerned for others around her, both those she already knows and those she meets on her dangerous journey, whether or not they seemed friendly towards her. The best part of this journey, however, was getting to see Evie find her own strength piece by piece along the way and realize that she did have the ability to overcome any fear or obstacle standing in her way when she needed to.
Lora Senf's writing is captivating and charismatic. I was constantly enraptured by this story, the characters, and the incredible descriptions and imaginative components that Senf created. I really loved the general setup through the slaughterhouse of having multiple houses with different themes and obstacles that existed within each one that Evie had to explore and overcome. I was always really excited to explore a new house and a new setting and see what was going to come at us this next time, and I think it was a really great way to explore a lot of the different ideas that the author wanted to in this book, and I think it did so in a really imaginative way. There are also a few illustrations littered throughout the story that are lovely and match the overall tone and atmosphere really well.
The Clackity is both really cute and really creepy at the same time. It definitely is a middle grade novel, but it also felt fairly scary at times, almost in the same vein of the creepiness level that Neil Gaiman’s Coraline has: it's great for kids, but at the same time as an adult you're almost constantly caught up thinking how dark and creepy it actually is. It doesn't really talk down to kids or hold their hands too much; rather, it lets you explore everything on your own in a way that feels explained and compelling. There were a lot of really wonderful themes and messages explored in this book, including those about self acceptance, grief, what it means to be yourself, finding your own strength amidst despair and feelings of hopelessness, and much more. I can definitely see fans of The Thickety by J.A. White, Coraline, or Katherine Arden's middle grade series really enjoying this one as well.
Overall, I've given The Clackity 4.5 stars!
*I received a copy of The Clackity courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*