How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found
by Sara Nickerson
Recommended Age: 12+
This author's first novel for the young shows a lot of promise. It is scary, exciting, moving, funny and sad all mixed together... and it even has comic book panels in it.
The comics come from a handmade series that a boy named Boyd finds in his local library which, in eccentric fashion, contains only handmade books. They are the adventures of Ratt, a man who, as a boy, gradually turned into a human rat; and his nemesis, the Drowning Ghost, who comes out at the full moon to drag people down into the depths and steal their eyeballs. One of the things that fascinates Boyd about the series is that Ratt lives in a mansion that looks just like the derelict old house next door.
Meanwhile, a girl named Margaret, who lives in another town, is trying to figure out the mystery of her father’s drowning death four years ago. When her mother drives out to the mansion next door to Boyd’s house just to stick a “For Sale By Owner” sign in the yard, Margaret finds a package addressed to her mother with “return to sender” written on it, dated four years ago. It contains her father’s champion swimming medal, a key to the old house and the first number of the Ratt comic: “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found.”
Eventually, these two friendless children come together and make an adventure of it. Threatened by mysterious footsteps, menaced by messages in comic book format, and plagued by bullies, they are finally forced to face their worst fears on the night of the full moon. For that is when Ratt himself appears, taking Margaret’s little sister, Sophie, out in a canoe to visit the place where it all began...