Today's feature is The Phantom Tower by Keir Graff as a part of a blog tour hosted Penguin Young Readers. In this stop in the blog tour, I'll tell you about the book, my review, and some of the spookiest moments in The Phantom Tower.
So read if you dare!
About the Book
Twin brothers discover their new home is also a portal--for an hour a day--to a parallel dimension in this rollicking middle-grade adventure, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Colm and Mal are twins so identical their own mom can't tell them apart, but they're different in just about every other way. Mal's a pragmatist while Colm's a dreamer, and they bicker and battle constantly. Neither brother is excited to be moving to Chicago for a fresh start with their mom just after their dad's death. But nothing cures homesickness like intrigue--and their new home, Brunhild Tower, has plenty of it: mysterious elderly neighbors who warn against wandering the building at midday, strange sounds in the walls, and an elevator missing a button for the thirteenth floor.
One day, that button appears--and when the doors open on the missing floor, the boys are greeted by the strangest puzzle yet: a twin building that is stuck in time and bustling with activity. All of Brunhild Tower's former residents live on in this phantom tower, where the rules of the real world don't apply. But when the brothers and their newfound friends discover they're all trapped by an ancient curse, they must band together to set everyone free before it's too late.
About the Author
Keir Graff is the author of The Matchstick Castle, The Other Felix, and a handful of books for grown-ups. When he's not making things up, he works as the executive editor of Booklist at the American Library Association. He lives in Chicago with his wife Marya and his sons Felix and Cosmo--in a building that looks exactly like Brunhild Tower.
*My website formatting went into italics in the final paragraphs.
Experiencing some technical difficulties I hope to fix soon!
Maybe at one point in your life while you were waiting for the elevator to reach your office, or reach the top floor for a stargazing session, you've found yourself wondering 'what if.' What if there was something more to those lit circular numbers? What if the doors opened to an unfamiliar world?
Take all these series of 'what ifs' and you have The Phantom Tower!
Keir Graff just grabs readers right from the first page and as the story progresses, you can't help but want to solve the mystery behind Brunhild Towers alongside Colm, Mal, and Tamika.
Narrative and Folklore
Colm has a very outgoing and adventurous personality which really calls to readers because Colm is very immersive and detailed with his environment. His observations are witty and well-timed, although his fascination with the 13th floor gets him in situations that you fear won't have a happy ending.
I enjoyed seeing how Graff combined folklore attributions along with contemporary narratives to create an original piece that explores the classic tale of parallel world by stepping through a door, or threshold, like the wardrobe into Narnia. While parallel worlds and disappearing elevator button enter the realm of the fantastic I enjoyed how the story was still primarily based on the real world because with every passing chapter readers are bound to think of their own world in a more colorful manner.
Terror and Number Thirteen
While The Phantom Tower is a light read mainly geared towards a middle grade audience, it held elements that readers can relate to Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Coraline. It did have its fair share of 'what will happen next?' moments. Personally, I found the encounters with the thirteenth floor both fascinating and terrifying. As much as I wanted the characters to explore the parallel world, in the back of my mind I was just dreading that Colm, Mal, or Tamika would be stuck and unable to return.
Past, Present, and Future went into an elevator....
The Phantom Tower is altogether a clash of time that flows together through the power of portals and a great source of power (can't say who because that would be a major spoiler). It was great to see how the Graff attached the metaphor of alternate realities in an elevator. The nature of elevators are transportive and served as an excellent means for the twins, Colm and Mal, to face a challenge where they needed to establish order and security in another world in order for them to apply it to their own newfound reality.
These pages really flew by and for a moment I was convinced I entered a time rift. I enjoyed the ending, which included a very heartfelt moment, and overall had a great time reading through Graff's humorous dialogue and creative take on where an elevator can take you. I'd absolutely recommend if you’d like a read that would be perfect for a Tim Burton or Wes Anderson movie adaptation.
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