Review: Deephaven by Ethan M. Aldridge

Deephaven by Ethan Aldridge cover shows a boy holding up a torch and standing in front of an opened gate. Behind and above him lurks a shadowy monster with glowing eyes and tentacle-like hair.

Ethan M. Aldridge
Quill Tree Books
Published September 5, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Deephaven

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?

Deephaven on Goodreads

My Review

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.

Deephaven on Bookshop

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

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual 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.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. A boy stabs a dangerous creature with a fencing foil. A dangerous creature threatens Nev and their friend.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of DEEPHAVEN in exchange for my honest review.

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays with Greg Pattridge at Always in the Middle

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays

Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

4 Responses to Review: Deephaven by Ethan M. Aldridge

  1. I just can’t read scary books. The cover scared me! But I appreciate knowing about it. I have lots of family members who love this stuff. Thanks for the review.

    • Kasey says:

      It’s good to have boundaries for what you can and can’t read. There are books I can’t read, too. Thanks for checking out my review. <3

  2. Your description of the main character convinced me to add this one to my future reading list. Sounds like a perfect title for the upcoming Halloween season. Thanks for featuring your review on this week’s MMGM.