Cover Image: Deephaven


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Member Reviews

Thanks to Harper Collins Children’s Books, Quill Tree Books, NetGalley, and author Ethan M. Aldridge for an advance copy of Deephaven. This was an excellent gothic read about a young middle school student who gets swept up her new boarding school. There’s strange and mysterious things happening in the closed off east wing and it’s up to Nev and her new friends to find out what really happened to the missing student from last year. It’s a great story for reading at this time of year when you are looking for some dark academia to introduce your middle school readers to.
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Guinevere “Nev” Tallow is ready for a new start and when a mysterious acceptance letter to Deephaven Academy arrives it couldn’t have better timing. Once there Nev finds out that Deephaven’s mysteries don’t end after their arrival, the off-limits east wing has plenty of questions that need to be answered.
This book had everything I wanted and so much more, it was the perfect queer, gothic, dark academia mystery great for both middle grade readers and adults alike. Nev was a fantastic main character who had a rich back story, all the smarts needed to solve the mystery, as well as a big heart which helped them bring the necessary empathy also needed. Not only did the prose paint a fantastic picture of Nev’s world but the accompanying illustrations helped create the beautifully gothic Deephaven environment. Overall, a wonderful read for spooky season and I can only hope the start of a new middle grade series.  
Thank you NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for early access to this title in exchange for an honest review.
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I picked up this book because I follow the cover artist on Instagram and saw they did the art for this book.
I love scary gothic stories, so this book looked enticing.
I like that the main character is genderfluid/nonbinary. 
I think this brought a lot of nuance to the story, although sometimes the use of "they" was confusing since it's both the main characters pronouns and also a plural. It's entirely on me to sometimes check if 'they' was singular or plural. It just made me read the book more slowly. It's a personal problem for sure, not a criticism. 

The book does a good job maintaining a mysterious and dark atmosphere. I liked it very much!
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Since I’ve read everything I can find that Ethan Aldridge has ever written, 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.
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What a clever and creepy story! This was a creepy, gothic, inclusive horror/mystery appropriate for middle grade or older. I’m an adult and very much enjoyed it. Will be featured on an upcoming episode of Your Rainbow Reads podcast.
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Free e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher!

Now this was really lovely. A bit of a quick read, and the mystery was fairly simple (for me) to figure out, but as the target audience is middle grade, I won't fault it for that. This fun, queer, dark academia mystery is sufficiently creepy (even for adult readers) and mood-setting for the cooler months. I enjoyed the story and the characters and I'll definitely be on the look out for any follow up books!
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My students can't get enough of scary/horror books, so I'm always on the lookout for more.  I'll be honest that I grabbed this one because I loved [book:Estranged|31193404] and initially thought this was a similar graphic novel.  

I decided to read it anyway and am glad I did.  Though the premise seems often-done (new kid at a strange boarding school), the story itself feels fresh and the creep factor is definitely high.  I adore Nev and their curiosity, and it's pretty clear that Deephaven holds more secrets than what we see here.

I'm hoping that the ending means there might be more in the series.
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This is an excellent creepy story to start off the spooky months! A boarding school with a sinister past, magic gone wrong, hauntings, students up to no good, dark academia vibes -- Deephaven has it all. I honestly wasn't expecting to be scared but the horror is pitched just right and had me frantically reading and worrying about the characters. I think what set this story apart from others that I've read is that it felt truly terrifying and unpredictable. There's enough detail and backstory to intrigue, but it's still very mysterious and uncanny. I felt just like Nev, tiptoeing through this hazardous new school and facing down monsters and villains. The adults aren't the kind one can turn to when there are real problems, so it falls on Nev and their friend Danny to unravel the mysteries of Deephaven.

I really enjoyed the characters! Nev is the epitome of independent and street smarts due to their unstable home life and upbringing. They have a mind suited to solving puzzles and creating, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Danny is a great ride or die friend, and bonds with Nev over their shared trauma at Deephaven, their desire to find answers, and tumultuous childhoods. Overall, this is a compact, spine-tingling tale I would recommend to fans of horror, monsters, boarding school settings, and dark academia. The illustrations are also delightfully creepy and atmospheric!
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Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Children’s for this MG dark academia!

Following a non-binary MC, Nev, into a weird school that seems to have a scary problem, this was easy to read. I loved the illustrations, they helped add to the spooky vibe. The magic system was confusing for me, I would’ve liked it to either be more explained or less (poof, we found a spell!), but otherwise I really enjoyed it.
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I liked this book overall.  It was an interesting concept.  I just wish it was longer and had more details.  I think everything was rushed and the story would have been more believable if there had been more details.  I would read the next book in the series if this book is made into a series.
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I loved this queer creepy middle grade book! The story was awesome. I loved the spooky strangeness of it all! I would love to read more in this world. Nev was everything! They are such a great character. I loved the illustrations that were in the book. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins Children's Books for the arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Many thanks to Netgalley and Quill Tree Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Deephaven is a refreshing take on dark academia and horror in middle grade fiction. It is delightfully atmospheric and beautifully written, with equally gorgeous illustrations. However, there is far more thinking than there is doing, which works against the narrative as it's quite a short novel. Very little happens, and I found it difficult to read more than a few chapters at a time. It often felt as though the author was throwing out inconsequential words and trains of thoughts to fill the pages, when what it really needed was more things happening in general to achieve the same result, and to raise the considerably low stakes.

It's important to me to mention that Nev is nonbinary, and their identity is in no way central to the plot. This is always wonderful to see, especially in middle grade fiction. However, there's never a point where another character refers to Nev in dialogue, so beyond they/them pronouns being used in prose, we never actually see their identity acknowledged on the page, Although I generally love such casual queer representation, avoiding using pronouns for Nev in dialogue altogether didn't sit quite right with me. A small conversation about Nev's preferred pronouns, at least with Danny, would have gone a long way.  

Still, Deephaven is focused and empowering, and worthy of a place on any shelf for young readers.
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This was a very fun read and I look forward to getting in print where I can really see the illustrations .  I loved the way nev's narrative unfolded and I hope to see more from alridge! very good!
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A refreshingly real and vulnerable protagonist stars in this tale of a school with a sinister secret.

Guinevere Tallow (known as Nev), the child of an absent mom and a dad in jail for his latest get-rich-quick scheme, accepts a mysterious school's invitation to become a student, hoping to find a home.  When Nev arrives at Deephaven, the mystery sweeps in with the tall, pale, and strangely predatory Patience Sleepwell, one of the prefects. She's not the only mysterious and likely sinister character Nev encounters, though there are "normal" students, like Danny, a fencer, who becomes Nev's best friend. It's not before long that the two come face-to-face with the biggest mystery of Deephaven: a monster they encounter when all the first year students are locked in the wing where a student died. It's soon clear that there is sinister magic afoot, and this monster is at the heart of it. Thank goodness Nev has an engineer's meticulous mind, as well pockets full of interesting bits and bobs thanks to their self-described "magpie" tendencies.

Aldridge's beautifully creepy illustrations add depth to important scenes. Short yet focused, this marvelous, empowering tale will be a treasure in middle school libraries and will keep readers hooked—especially kids who don't feel they belong.
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When Guinevere “Nev” Tallow receives a scholarship offer to attend the elite boarding school, Deephaven, they don’t plan on accepting, but life has other plans. When they arrive, Nev plans to go unnoticed, blend into the background, but strange things are going on at Deephaven and they can’t resist a mystery, and solving this mystery will draw more attention to Nev than they’ve ever had before.

Nev’s mother abandoned them long ago, and now that their father’s debts have caught up to him, landing him in jail, Nev is desperate to keep their place at Deephaven Academy secure. Nev’s scholarship is the only thing keeping them housed and fed. But, on the first night of the semester, Nev and their fellow first years are locked in the off-limits East Wing by a arrogant prefect, and told they must keep the ghosts that reside there company. It is not a ghost living in the East Wing, though, it is a terrifying beast who nearly kills Nev and their new friend Danny. The experience sends Nev on a hunt for answers, and finding them will put Nev’s entire future at risk, if they survive with their life.

Now, you may be thinking after that description, that sounds like a very intriguing book! I thought the same thing, but unfortunately this one ended up being quite a boring read. It was a bit of a surprise, as I love a spooky boarding school setting, and monsters are one of my favorite subject matters. The stakes just never felt high enough, and I often found myself drifting while reading; it took me about a week longer than planned to finish, because I could only get through one maybe two chapters at a time. This of course is not to say Deephaven is bad. It had a lot of positives going for it; I just found it boring for my tastes.

The positives are very likely to make this novel a winner in other people’s opinions. First off, Nev is non-binary, but that plays absolutely no role in the story, which is nice to see representation wise. And all the characters were well developed with complex and intriguing personalities. It makes the book a very well done study of one’s history and the role it plays on a person. The illustrations were also lovely, and sure to be appreciated by those with a penchant for artwork. They helped to build the world and create a rich setting in Deephaven Academy.

It felt like the world of Deephaven still has much more to be explored, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one or more sequels. Even though I didn’t enjoy this one, it’s still worth a shot for dark academia fans.
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**I was provided and electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.**

Actual rating: 3.5

Ethan M Aldridge returns with his queer dark academia middle grade novel, Deephaven. Guinevere "Nev" Tallow has made the decision to attend Deephaven Academy after a letter arrives offering them a scholarship and a fresh start. Nev is eager for the opportunity, but quickly finds out that Deephaven is a spooky old place with all the secrets and mysteries one can expect from a place like that. Nev and their new friend Danny have their work cut out for them to try to solve some of the puzzles of Deephaven before more people get hurt. 

Nev is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, which was nice despite never having any on page conversations about their identity or how other characters should address them. Certainly, the content was appropriate for the target age demographic, though even a simple addition of a request for specific pronouns in their introduction to the other characters would have been welcome. Nev is certainly more than their gender identity, as their habit of pocketing small items they find and later incorporating them into small mechanical toys was a pleasant quirk to feature. Nev's friendship with Danny was wholesome and a highlight of the work. 

The plot, however, was a bit thin if still effective. Nothing was unexpected and it was easy to figure out the characters in play. However, given the target age demographic it is likely this is a feature not a bug. Likewise, the magic implemented was also very surface level with very limited explanation as to how or why the magic worked. Where Aldridge shone was in the setting of Deephaven itself as he was incredibly successful at building out an atmosphere of vaguely creepy and spooky gloom surrounding the academy. 

Ultimately, I would be happy to recommend this to middle grade readers or older and I hope that Aldridge chooses to expand on Nev's adventures at Deephaven in future works.
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Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy to review! This comes out September 5! 

This was such a fun, creepy, spooky, dark middle grade story about a non-binary kid who finds themself at a mysterious boarding school that seems to be haunted? But is all as it seems? Or are darker secrets lurking in the east wing? 

A great alternative to other magical boarding school books around, this book has heart and care and gusto that other middle grade books I’ve read recently lack. 

Definitely recommend for all my MG fans who want something creepy for the fall.
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I did not read through this whole arc, as I was under the impression it would be a graphic novel and instead it only had illustrations occasionally. I do, however, really enjoy Ethan Aldridge's previous graphic novels, so I think fans of his would like this prose novel.
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A very interesting story with interesting characters and an intriguing mystery at its core. It catches our interest since chapter one and it is a page-turner. Great to introduce young readers to eerie mysteries.
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What a novel debut! I've read Aldridge's graphic novel, but the author really seamlessly has transitioned into the longer form with Deephaven. Nev was a relatable quiet character with Danny serving as a great bolster in the text. The horror was done well and mada my skin crawl-- kids will be clamoring for more.

I did take issue with a small moment in Chapter 4 where a character asks Nev about their lsat name "tallow as in FAT?" I am disappointed with the implication of fat being inherantly bad or negative, especially in a book where there are no plus sized characters at all. I'd encourage the author/publisher to cut that line to avoid adding to the body shaming that fat kids can receive in plenty of other societal ways.
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