Book Reviews

Last Middle Grade Reads of 2023

I know I am writing this before the end of 2023, but as my TBR is mostly set, these will be reviews of the last middle grade books of the year! There’s a bit of a variety here from left over spooky reads and panels. Keep reading for mini reviews of The Destiny of Minou Moonshine, Peril at Price Manor, and The Tale of the Gravemother.

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The Tale of the Gravemother by Rin Chupeco

In this original fiction series, the world of Are You Afraid of the Dark? becomes even bigger and spookier, introducing an all-new Midnight Society and chilling, never-before-told tales for fans of the show and horror fanatics alike. With acclaimed horror writers behind each spine-tingling adventure in the series, it’s sure to appeal to brave readers of Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Five Nights at Freddy’s. Read if you dare! This series will keep you up long past your bedtime . . .


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Beginning with a frame narrative, The Tale of the Gravemother is perfect for spooky middle grade readers. It’s reminiscent of ghost stories around campfires and at sleepovers. While it’s a story about fears and ghosts, it’s also a story about towns and powers who want houses and land for development. About the necessity of looking at the stories and ghosts that are already there. About not burying the past.

Full of unlikely friendships and friendships against all odds, The Tale of the Gravemother explores what is real and what is not. It explores the power of belief and how stories bleed into real life. This was a quick, but entertaining read which is sure to thrill middle grade readers. Find The Tale of the Gravemother on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

The Destiny of Minou Moonshine by Gita Ralleigh

Fierce orphan girl, Minou Moonshine, lives with her grandmother on a makeshift barge in the shadow of the General’s palace. Under the tyrant’s rule, life in Moonlally is hard: the monsoons have failed and worship of their goddess, the Dark Lady, is forbidden.

When Minou’s beloved Dima is murdered, she joins the secretive Green Orchids, rebels plotting to overthrow the General.

Amid the lush jungles, mountain villages and treetop temples of Indica, Minou begins a winding journey with her two friends and a mechanical elephant, on the adventure of a lifetime.

Minou must back the floods and the ancient power of the Dark Lady, as well as finding the Queen and her own place in the future of Moonlally.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Destiny of Minou Moonshine is a middle grade story about the stories within stories. It’s about family and friendship when we think we have no one. This middle grade debut is full of action with covert double agents, spying, and rebellion all in one. It’s sure to thrill middle grade readers who want adventure while also examining power structures. While I felt some elements got bogged down a bit with the pacing, The Destiny of Minou Moonshine still shines. It navigates what makes a hero and what strength means.

For middle grade readers who might not have always felt heroic, The Destiny of Minou Moonshine is empowering. Find The Destiny of Minou Moonshine on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, & Blackwells.

Peril at Price Manor by Laura Parnum

Halle dreams of becoming a scream queen. She practices her loudest scream every day and has learned a lot from studying the horror movies of her favorite director, Maximus Price. Maximus lives just outside town, and when the chance to go to his home arises, Halle grabs it with both hands. She doesn’t realize that real life horrors await her at Price Manor.

Paisley and Argyle, Maximus’s twin children, think that the creepy, squid-like creatures that have attached themselves to the faces of the manor’s staff, putting them in a zombie-like stupor, are just another one of their prankster dad’s tricks. When Halle arrives and is attacked by one of the creatures, she meets the twins and assures them that this is no joke. The three kids will have to work together using all of their unusual talents to defeat the monsters–and maybe even save the world.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Peril at Price Manor is perfect for middle grade readers who are fans of horror films. Halle adores them left and right and I loved seeing this in a middle grade book. From the beginning, it’s clear something dangerous is afoot. In Peril at Price Manor the action begins and doesn’t stop. In many ways it’s a story about the dangers of isolation and the idea that if we want to protect someone, wrapping them away won’t cut it.

I loved the setting Parnum creates as feeling isolated, but also detailed. A world within a home. Peril at Price Manor is a testament to friendship and challenging ourselves. Find Peril at Price Manor on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your favorite middle grade read or one you’re going to gift this season?

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