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Fiction Ages 9-12
Pages: 264
Themes: Borderlands, magic, life and death, siblings, good and evil
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 01/Apr/2015
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Dekker isn’t happy that he and his little sister, Riley, are stuck in Button Hill with their weird old great-aunt Primrose. When he discovers an old clock in the cellar, made entirely of bones and with a skull for a face, he doesn’t think much about it. But when Riley goes missing, a strange boy named Cobb appears in Button Hill. He tells Dekker that Button Hill sits on the border between Nightside and Dayside—and that Riley is in Nightside and may never return. In order to save her, Dekker must follow her into the darkness and sacrifice something he thought he couldn’t live without.

Alice Kuipers, award-winning author
"A dark yet delightful tale for readers who love the unexpected, who long for secret passages and who live for annoying their siblings. When Dekker is trapped in the scary world beneath his strange Aunt's spooky house, he and his sister have to discover what really matters to even have a hope of seeing the real world again. The dead come alive, sort of, in this thrilling novel written by the talented, fun, and lively Michael Bradford.”
School Library Journal
"The atmospheric descriptions of the spooky scenes and inhabitants of Nightside create a strong sense of place, and the children’s well-crafted dialogue adds humor to balance macabre scenarios...The action unfolds at a steady pace that will keep readers curious about what happens next."
CM Magazine
"The reader is hooked into this story immediately through the atmospheric foreshadowing of things to come, the tangible depiction of place and the use of clear, concise language liberally sprinkled with picturesque phrases that show rather than tell. Each and every character, even those in minor supporting roles, are so well delineated they are totally authentic. The relationship between Dekker and his sister that begins as one of teasing rivalry and turns into a deep, loving one, where each is willing to sacrifice themselves for the other, is particularly touching as is the strength and wisdom of the quirky Aunt Primrose."
Quill & Quire
[Starred review] "A scrumptious Gothic treat, oozing high-calorie horror and delectable dread...Although Dekker's quest seems hopeless at times, Bradford never lets him or the reader slide into complete despair. A cheerful optimism bounces through the story, much of it coming from the upbeat, buoyant Riley...A rollicking good read, with adventures tumbling one after the other...Gleefully thrilling."
Resource Links
"A highly recommended title that will fascinate readers between 9 and 12, especially those interested in ghost stories, horror, fantasy, adventure and mysteries. There's an underlying theme of sibling rivalry, loyalty, and love that will attract readers of other genres."
"Endearingly full of grotesque silliness and the macabre. Skeletons, bones, ghosts, creepy crawlies, trains, clocks, zombies, and music boxes haunt the intangible world between the dead and whatever comes next."
School Library Connection
"This fast-paced story has twists and turns as well as many characters in various stages of bodily decay. But Dekker and his sister escape the Nightside and return to Button Hill with most body parts intact. This book will keep readers on edge until Dekker and his sister are safely home again."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "A moment's messing with an odd clock plunges a lad into the strange and dangerous borderland between the living world and the realms of the dead in this decidedly offbeat chiller...Though strewn with scary creatures and tons of spooky bones, the tale is also leavened with tongue-in-cheek elements...Both Dekker and Riley are admirably clever, and Bradford keeps the stakes satisfyingly high. Rare, scary fun. With tomatoes."


Kirkus Prize nominee  | 2015 | Short-listed

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