I gave this book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 stars, I loved it.
Charlie Laird has a dream life.
1) He has a weirdo stepmom who runs an herbarium.
2) He lives in a purple mansion with a portal to the Netherworld.
3) Since they escaped from the Netherworld, he and his best friends have been sleeping like babies.
This is the second book in a series. As such this review may contain spoilers for the first book. If you want to read my review of the first book you can find it here.
Charlie Laird is a fairly average not quite teenage boy. He has an annoying little brother, an average dad and an absolutely weird stepmom. He lives in a giant purple mansion with a tower. The tower houses a portal to the Netherworld, the world of nightmares. Most people only visit the Netherworld in their sleep during a nightmare, Charlie has been there in person while he was awake. He and his little brother are the guardians of the portal. They make sure it is closed and keep the nightmares locked away in the Netherworld where they belong.
Charlie and his friends start to notice that the people from the next town over are acting a little strange. They shuffle, drool, groan and they are very clumsy. One of them crashes into a streetlamp and knocks himself out right in front of Charlie! The soccer team loses 37 to 0 because their entire team are acting like zombies.
Charlie and his friends have to investigate. Everything they discover adds to the weirdness. No one is sleeping in Orville Falls and there is a strange new shop in town. When the new shop puts a branch in Charlie's town they realize they have to kick their investigation up a notch and get to the bottom of the mystery before their town becomes the next victim of this weirdness.
As with the previous book this one is delightful. Many new lessons for Charlie to learn. Jealousy, fear, hope and despair are all themes in this book. The last one taught kids that you have to face your fear to overcome it. This one teaches kids that being fearless isn't the same as being brave. Doing something because it is necessary despite being scared to death is bravery and it is very different than being fearless.
I highly recommend this book. If you have a kid struggling with being brave, this book may be helpful. It has great lessons to teach both young and old, plus it is just a fun read. I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading.