Courtney Cumrin series by Ten Naifeh
Book 1: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things (2002) - I was sucked into the story right away! Courtney's parents, living well beyond their means, jump at the chance to live rent free at Great Uncle Aloysius's creepy old mansion that happens to be in the rich area of town. Having use of the lower floors but strictly forbidden to enter his upper domain the parents settle in. Courtney can't make friends at school due to her association with the Crumrin house and she hears things in the night. This leads to her snooping around and finding an old book with very strange recipes in it that she starts to experiment with and she meets some very strange creatures both in and out of the house which mostly want to do harm to her or someone. I loved this. Done in black and white it suits the gothic, creepy atmosphere. Courtney is a girl with an attitude but likable all the same. Can't wait to read book two and find out where the story is going to go. 4/5
Book 2: Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics (2003) - Lots and lots of action in this volume with many story arcs and mini plots within the overall main plot of the series. It's been a year now and Courtney is quite the witch under her warlock Uncle Aloysius's tutelage. Courtney meets another grown witch, is invited to a cat meeting, confronts the most horrible hobgoblin then learns of a political plot within the warlock and witches' Coven. Courtney befriends a night thing whose life is in danger, Uncle Aloysius thinks he can handle things but it's left to Courtney in the end to uncover who is behind the horrible plot. So much going on in this book that it is a whirlwind ride, new characters both good and evil. Courtney's character is becoming much clearer. She has a huge attitude but a heart to match for the underdog. This volume gets pretty creepy and scary at times and all things do not end happily. Courtney's parents also no longer play a part of the story at this point as Courtney spends her time between school, with Uncle A., and in the forbidden woods. The book ends with Courtney ready to take on the world and I'm ready to take on the next book! 5/5
Book 3: Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom (2004) - We're given one brief page to refresh our memory of the big picture from the last volume then Courtney's ambivalent parents are back in play as they go back to the city to finally sell their old condo. Courtney tries to reconnect with an old friend and finds they've both changed. When she returns she has to spend summer vacation at a summer school for other children of witches/warlocks and she doesn't get along with those kids any better than the ones at school, but when one of them, a show off, turns his little brother into a night thing they come to Courtney for help and off they go to Goblin Town in search of the Orchards of the Twilight King for a reverse spell. But all along Courtney has a stalker on her trail. The excitement level is high in this volume. A whole new cast of characters are put into play with the summer school group and a few people/creatures from previous books make an appearance as well, while Uncle Aloysius stays in the background this volume. The story lines are intricate and detailed, plenty of mini story arcs with a plethora of eccentric characters. I love Courtney's attitude and loyalty and am anxious to read Vol. four. 5/5
Book 4: Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday (2009) - This book is different that the others in that instead of being four small chapters this time, while remaining the same size, the book has been split into two long chapters which could almost be considered short stories. I think this book could be read as a stand alone as none of the content is dependent on the previous material except for the relationship the previous readers will have developed with Courtney by this time. Courtney has gone on a trip with Uncle Aloysius, mentioned at the end of Vol. 3, to Europe. The night things play no part in this volume but instead Courtney and her uncle meet up with traditional creatures of the night. In chapter one they meet up with werewolves and in chapter two it's vampires. All the things I've come to love about Courtney are still present in this volume though Courtney's attitude suffers a bit of a blow as she finally comes to realize that she has always been lonely. Courtney and Uncle A's relationship also finally starts to show signs of warming. The five year lag between books 3 and 4 have me worried about the likelihood of seeing a volume 5 anytime soon. The ending certainly leaves room for one and I'd love to see Courtney come back to learning the full potential of her powers. 4/5
I <3 all Ted Naifeh books! I haven't read the 4th one - even though I now own it. You should check out Gloomcookie by Serena Valentino - Ted illustrates the first volume I believe.
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