Possessions Volume 3: The Better House Trap
I was thrilled to see that the book opened with a sketch showing us how one of the other inhabitants of Ms. Llewellyn-Vane’s mansion for captured spirits and ghostly curiosities came to be part of the living museum. We haven’t seen enough of their histories for my taste, but that just means Ray Fawkes has created characters that leave me wanting more. The Pale Lady seems to have used her beheading as a reason to grow up and focus on something other than her appearance. I want to see everyone’s stories; that requires patience for books to come.
Gurgazon remains the supernatural equivalent of a particularly rambunctious toddler, with the usual destructiveness ramped up to exorcism levels. Its nemesis is the all-seeing butler Mr. Thorne, and this time Gurgazon’s got help to run away. Gurgazon has figured out that the best time to rally the compatriots to escape is when Thorne is out finding another spirit. Gurgazon’s arranged for Thorne to enter a house-trap, only Gurgazon doesn’t understand what Thorne really is. (Neither does the reader, but we get more hints along the way.)
The simplified cartooning keeps everything light-hearted, which helps with a cast of weird monsters. They’re almost cuddly at times. And then Gurgazon will do something silly, like pretending to be harmless, in such a superficial, obvious way that it’s hilarious. Throughout the story, there are a number of shifts in tone, from humor to horror, and Fawkes handles them well while setting up a promising new conflict for the next book. This is the first time Gurgazon comes close to living up to its frightening title, which intrigues me. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)