Premise: Robert Arthur is at a new school, Lovecraft Middle School, where he struggles with the same things every middle school student does: new classes, homework, meeting new people, bullies, teachers, and…monsters.
As he makes friends with the most unlikely of characters, Robert soon learns that his new school holds some old secrets that might help explain some of the strange things that are happening to him. Some of his new friends might also have some secrets of their own to help reveal some of the school’s mysteries. What funereal things and monstrous creatures will Robert encounter at Lovecraft Middle School as he uncovers its secrets?
Themes: The problem of bullying is confronted right from the beginning as Robert enters his new school, yet still must deal with Glenn Torkells, the kid who has been bullying him for years. But when they both encounter the same strange occurrence together, their relationship might end up changing because of it.
Making new friends is always difficult, but seemingly more difficult when kids enter a new school. When another student goes out of their way to befriend another, it can be alarming, yet relieving in spite of their own quirks. Karina Ortiz does this for Robert as she talks to Robert when no one else does.
Living in a single-parent family can also be a struggle, especially when it is time for parent-teacher conferences and your mother works to support the family. When interactions between the parent and child are limited, those precious moments can mean a lot to both the parent and the child.
Pros: The cover has the cool factor of having a moving image showing the transformation of Professor Gargoyle. The story is fun and easy to read, especially as an introduction to the H.P. Lovecraft mythos, but also as a fast-paced action story for middle school kids. This first book manages to introduce some horror elements without being too scary. In fact, it is more humorous than anything, taking on common middle school problems with an element of peril. The action is pretty good and light enough for the intended younger audience. I think most H.P. Lovecraft fans will especially enjoy this more modern and lighthearted spin on his work. Did I mention the cover is cool?
Cons: Probably the most disturbing thing about Professor Gargoyle is the cover itself. While the cool moving image on the cover shows some depth to the namesake character, the demonic image will probably be a deterrent to parents letting their kids read this book, and for the younger end of the recommended age I think it is rightfully so. And on top of this, the cover is a terrible spoiler for the character. While the history behind the school is minimally explained in general terms, I assume more will be revealed in later books.
Recommendations: Professor Gargoyle is not only a good introduction to this series but also to the mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. The neat cover alone was intriguing enough to pull me in, and what I found was a fun introduction of a mysterious new series where nothing is as it seems and danger can be averted through teamwork and ingenuity. With the demonic elements I would recommend that kids are a little older before reading Professor Gargoyle, and with some parental guidance. Don’t let the scary image on the cover keep you from giving it a shot, though I doubt that will be a problem for fans of the horror master. In this first book, just like Lovecraft Middle School itself, Gilman has created something new out of something old with Professor Gargoyle.
Lovecraft Middle School website
Professor Gargoyle on Goodreads
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I received a copy from the publisher to write this honest review.