mystery, tween

Montooth and the Canfield Witch

Author: Robert Jay
Publisher: Montooth Press
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
ISBN: 978-0-615-29645-6
Pages: 441
Price: $27.99

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Carty Andersson grew up as a tomboy in the Florida swamps, learning how to safely navigate through the dangers lurking there. When she finds out that one of the residents in their swampy neighborhood, Sally Canfield, is believed to be a witch, she is curious but unafraid.

One night, taking a detour past the witch’s house, she encounters some men obviously plotting with evil intent. A few days later Carty and her partners in The Crew head out on a school project collecting plant specimens. When their search leads them to Sally’s house, they find themselves caught in a snare they didn’t anticipate. Only quick action and sharp shooting save Carty and her friends from perishing.

Although this book feels like it should be geared towards the middle-grade audience, due to the age of the protagonists, it presents some truly evil “bad guys” with a violent streak that I found surprising. While none of the murders were graphic, the methods used in committing them gave me chills, and I’m not sure how an 8th grader would feel reading them.

But aside from the amount of violence in these criminal actions, Montooth and the Canfield Witch is a well-written novel that’s full of suspense, with some really great characters. Carty shows a lot of courage and spunk, and her male classmates are unique individuals with well-developed personalities. Even Sally Canfield turns out to be something quite unexpected, in a great twist at the end.

Warning: Rated mature due to violence.

Reviewer: Alice Berger