In Wretched Waterpark, readers may wallow in gothic mystery at its finest... and its most delightfully gloomy. The first in the Sinister Summer middle-grade series is filled with characters and scenes that would make Edgar Allan Poe shiver, and its hilarious quips and asides draw an even finer point on the ghastliness. Under suspicious and puzzling circumstances, the Sinister-Winterbottom children have been deposited at a weird water park with a cryptic assignment from their aunt: "Find what was lost."
The three siblings can't quite remember how they ended up spending the summer with their spooky aunt Saffronia Sinister, "whom the children had never met, and who, by all appearances, had never encountered an actual human child before." When she tells them they are to get a week's pass at a water park, they are initially excited. Fathoms of Fun is not the usual water park, however. Stone gargoyles leer, their lolling tongues acting as slides. Angel statues with looks of horror adorn the mausoleum, er, cabana, where the kids are told to leave their belongings. And is that a hand the children keep seeing pressed against the window at the top of an inaccessible tower?
Like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, this first title in the Sinister Summer series follows three siblings through one disastrous experience after another, the bleak circumstances lifted by funny wordplay and easy sibling teasing. Kiersten White (Camelot Rising trilogy; Chosen) brings a playfulness to the macabre. Wil, Alexander and Theo Sinister-Winterbottom are each distinct and appealing personalities. Their pursuit of the mystery is exhilarating, with evocative visuals that would translate thrillingly to the big screen. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor