The first of Brom’s novels that I ever read is a large illustrated novel called The Plucker. It is a horror story if I ever read one but a horror story that centers around a world that we never think of: the world of toys, the world that we grow out of and concide to the Under-Dark, that place beneath the bed where once-beloved toys are sent to be forgotten and die.
I will tell you right now, this is NOT a child’s storybook. I would not give this book to a student below the 9th grade because of maturity level. That’s not to say that students beneath 9th grade aren’t mature or that all 9th graders are, but I personally would not feel comfortable handing this book to one of my students at this age.
Poor Jack-in the-Box used to be his owner’s favorite toy but now he has found himself consigned to the UnderDark. Here he does not have the benefit of friends, or even the old Tin Soldier to talk to. Just toys that have so lost the glamour of their master’s love that they have lost the will to live and have become mere, lifeless playthings once again. But, most of all, from under the bed, Jack cannot see the Angel, a beautiful toy brought from Belgium. When the little boy’s naval officer father brings home a spirit doll from Africa, he accidentally cracks it and releases an evil spirit into this innocent child’s world. Now Jack must fight, not only to save every toy in the Room, but also his young master’s very life.
This story is at once terrifying and fascinating. I couldn’t put it down and made myself leave it home from school so I wouldn’t be tempted to read it when I had things to do. The illustrations are gorgeous and the entire novel is full of them. It’s a good story but not necessarily a nice one. Brom’s speciality is personal horror so get ready to be deliciously frightened and fascinated.