Ethan M. Aldridge
Quill Tree Books
Published September 5, 2023
From Ethan M. Aldridge, bestselling creator of ESTRANGED, comes a gothic middle grade prose novel that follows a nonbinary student who is drawn to their boarding school’s forbidden east wing, where something stalks the shadowy corridors. Perfect for fans of J. A. White and Mary Downing Hahn!
When Guinevere “Nev” Tallow receives an acceptance letter to the exclusive Deephaven Academy, they know it’s the fresh start that they’ve been looking for. But things are strange from the moment they arrive—the house itself seems to breathe, students whisper secrets in dark corridors, and the entire east wing of the academy is locked away for reasons no one wants to explain. And Nev knows something ragged stalks the shadowy corridors, something that sobs quietly and scratches at the walls, waiting to be released. With the help of another first-year student, Nev takes it upon themself to unravel the mysteries hidden in Deephaven’s halls. But will they risk their fresh start to bring the academy’s secret to light?
Since I’ve read everything I can find that Ethan Aldridge has ever written (including these charming short stories), I knew I would read DEEPHAVEN. I didn’t realize at first that it was a prose novel, so I was a little surprised when I started the first page. But the story of Nev and the strange school they were going to attend pretty quickly drew me in.
Nev, especially, is such a cool character. They are always picking up bits of things– screws, bobbins, stuff like that– which they save and use to create mechanical toys. I loved the descriptions of them working on the toys. The author describes Nev as having a magpie mind, and I loved that.
The story contains black and white illustrations spaced throughout, usually one toward the end of each chapter. I thought the author made really great choices as to which moments of the story to illustrate. It really helped me grasp the characters and reinforced the creepy setting of the boarding school.
The book is under 300 pages, so it’s a pretty quick read. I enjoyed it. I think readers who prefer graphic novels but maybe want to branch out into prose should give this one a try. Definitely, other fans of the author’s work will want to add DEEPHAVEN to their collections.
Content Notes for Deephaven
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Nev is nonbinary. Nev’s best friend is Black. Two minor characters, upper-grade girls, are in a romantic relationship.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Nev hears rumors that ghosts live in the abandoned East Wing of the school. Some characters have the ability to perform magic. Nev discovers what appears to be a monster.
Situations of peril. A boy stabs a dangerous creature with a fencing foil. A dangerous creature threatens Nev and their friend.
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