Evie Von Rathe lives in Blight Harbor—the seventh-most haunted town in America—with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert. Des doesn’t have many rules except one: Stay out of the abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town. But when her aunt disappears into the building, Evie goes searching for her.
There she meets The Clackity, a creature who lives in the shadows and seams of the slaughterhouse. The Clackity makes a deal with Evie to help get Des back in exchange for the ghost of John Jeffrey Pope, a serial killer who stalked Blight Harbor a hundred years earlier. Evie reluctantly embarks on a journey into a strange otherworld filled with hungry witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory-thief, all while being pursued by a dead man whose only goal is to add Evie to his collection of lost souls. Will she ever find Des, or is The Clackity planning something far more sinister?
I'm a reader and writer of dark and twisty stories for all ages. I owe my love of words to my parents and to the public library that was walking distance from my childhood home.
I find inspiration for my writing all over the place - from my kids' retellings of their dreams to road trips through Montana, and most recently, in an abandoned abattoir!
I love the reading and writing communities. I'm a member of SCBWI, Horror Writers Association, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I live in Washington State with my husband, our twins, and two remarkably lazy cats.
The Clackity is my first novel. I hope you enjoy it!
After a childhood tragedy, Evie Von Rathe moves to the town of Blight Harbor, the 7th-most haunted town in America, to live with her Aunt Desdemona, the local paranormal expert.
When we meet Evie, she is a happy little girl, on the cusp of her summer holiday. She enjoys working at the local library with her Aunt's best friend, Lily, and has a fantastic relationship with her Aunt Des. These things help her deal with the pain of her earlier trauma.
Additionally, Evie is quite interested in paranormal goings-on, so the fact that this is her Aunt's line of work excites her to no end. Frankly, I get it. Desdemona is intriguing.
One rule Des has always had is to not hang around the local abandoned slaughterhouse. Makes sense to me. Apparently, once upon a time, a local serial killer John Jeffrey Pope worked there. It's not giving off good vibes.
When Evie discovers her Aunt is exploring the old slaughterhouse for work, she wants in on it and promptly follows Des there.
Over the course of their investigation into the slaughterhouse and it's sordid history, Aunt Des disappears and shortly thereafter Evie meets the Clackity.
The Clackity tells Evie that Des has been transported into a dangerously magical other realm and only Evie has the power to save her.
It offers up a deal, saying if Evie retrieves the spirit of serial killer John Jeffery Pope for it, Aunt Des will be saved. The killer is also in this magical other realm, putting Aunt Des in terrible danger. The clock is ticking.
Even though it is quite clear that the Clackity isn't something you want to be making any sort of a deal with, what choice does she have? That's right, none.
Thus, Evie begins her dangerous quest to save Aunt Des, meeting challenges, obstacles and scary beings head on. Evie is one strong and determined little girl. We love to see it!
The Clackity is such a fun Middle Grade story; non-stop spooky goodness from beginning to end. It channeled heavy Neil Gaiman vibes for me and I was eating it up.
Quests are one of my favorite tropes and I would argue this fits the bill perfectly. Add in the level of eeriness carried throughout and you pretty much have a perfect story for me.
I loved how the quest was presented. There were different steps, or challenges, Evie had to pass before moving on to the next. It was simple and easy to understand, while also being ridiculously well-imagined and described.
This story absolutely filled my heart. I loved the characters, relationships, humor and horror-filled imagery so much. It's incredibly dark and creepy, the perfect example of why I love this subgenre of Middle Grade with my whole being.
I definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a classic-feeling Spooky Middle Grade story. The Clackity is an absolute gem.
Thank you so very much to the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It was an true delight!!
Welcome to Blight Harbor, the seventh most haunted town in America (per capita).
After the mysterious disappearance of her parents, Evelyn moved there to live with her aunt Desdemona. Aunt Des is something of a local paranormal expert, offering advice to those with "otherworldly concerns." Lately she's been quite interested in the abandoned slaughterhouse on the edge of town, and when Des disappears, Evie has a sinking feeling she knows exactly where her beloved aunt may be. When Evie goes to the spooky abattoir, she encounters the Clackity, a shadowy creature with a Cheshire grin, and one eye sewn shut.
If she wants to get her aunt back, Evie must search for clues in seven houses, and then bring back the ghost of a serial killer who's been dead for one hundred years. Oh, is that all? As the Clackity himself warns her, "Bad, bad, bad men make bad, bad ghosties."
This is one creepy read, and some scenes are pretty intense. Though it's recommended for ages 10-12, I'd suggest it for the older end of that range.
Other than that, all ll I can say is if Blight Harbor is only the seventh most haunted town in America (per capita), I'd hate to visit the first . . .
And, bring on the sequel!
Thanks NetGalley and Atheneum for allowing me to read this one.
Coraline meets Monster House in this story about a brave girl who will do anything to protect the family she loves.
This was one of those books that instantly caught my attention with its amazing cover. Even though it's dark, it stands out and calls for your attention. And then I read the synopsis. I became obsessed after I read the part about a haunted slaughterhouse. I just adore haunted locations and here we get something a little different from what we're used to. Instantly sold!!
The story was a really quick read and it gave off Coraline vibes, which I loved. Evie was a great character. She never gave up and always had hope even in the darkest and toughest of times. She is one character that I would love to have in my corner. She was a fighter and didn't stop at anything that got in her way. The family aspect was adorable. We all wish for family in our lives that would be willing to go to the ends of the earth for us and we find that here with Evie and her Aunts. It was amazing.
The Clackity was a decent middle-grade read. The story and characters were great. I loved that the entire town was haunted by ghosts and every resident was okay with that. The slaughterhouse being the residence of something dark and evil was genius. We usually don't get locations like that being haunted and Lora changes that. It was awesome. Middle-graders who love spooky tales will love this one. Hell, even I enjoyed this one and I'm in my thirties.
I knew from the first page that this book had the potential to be a new favorite…. and it definitely is!
LIKES ✍🏼 I fell in love with Lora’s writing style! It’s fast-paced, whimsical, and the similes/metaphors she used were beautiful. 🌙 She also wrote the atmosphere so well! I could easily visualize every step of Evie’s journey to rescue her Aunt Des. 👩🏻🦰 Evie was such a great character! She was someone I could relate with on so many levels. I enjoyed watching her character develop throughout the story. The way she faced her fears and persevered through so many obstacles! 💕 I also loved the relationship Evie has with her Aunt Des. I hope to see more of Des in the future, too. I love the banter between them and how Des is just trying to be the best she can be for Evie. 👻 The Clackity and John Jeffrey Pope were so spooky! These were great characters to haunt you in your sleep. And the thought that both were watching/after Evie at all times. 👀 🏚 I don’t want to spoil the journey… but I loved all the different places Evie had to go and the steps she took to rescue her aunt. It was so whimsical and adventurous! ✝️ The subtle faith tie-ins were so great. These are my favorite spooky stories to read and ones I aspire to write myself someday! 🕸 At times this story reminded me of another favorite spooky book of mine, Coraline by Neil Gaiman. So, I would definitely go as far to say that if you liked that one, you will probably enjoy this one, too! 🖤 I could go on and on, but we would be here all day. Clearly I loved this story, and I highly recommended preordering it!
I have no qualms with this story, but if I had one small critique it would be that I would have loved to see more quotable messages/lessons. I knew exactly what the author was going for in the message that she wanted to portray. I knew it in my head. I would have just loved to see it explored more deeply in text. Like to just have more beautiful quotes with the lessons. I hope that makes sense!
Regardless, I loved this story so much! Thank you, again, to Lora Senf for sending me an ARC and bookmarks. I am so grateful Karina connected us. I can’t wait to read more of your work in the future! 🤍
I am judging judged the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction division of the Cybils Awards and this book is one of seven finalists. Announcement of the winners in all divisions will be was made on Feb 14 after which I’ll post full reviews.
I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one. It’s more horror-leaning than the others on the short list, which were all Fantasy, and I’m not usually a fan. I found this book to be very clever, entertaining, genuinely scary, but not overly so, and looked at anxiety and panic attacks with compassion. The female main character was on her own to fix the problem, except for various adults that crossed her path. She had difficulties and moved through them and the associated despair in a way that seemed plausible.
I alternated listening to and reading this book and can recommend the audio.
I bought The Clackity because it's a middle grade horror novel and the synopsis sounded awesome. In The Clackity, Evie's aunt has disappeared and Evie must enter a supernatural world filled with challenges to get her back.
I had managed to talk myself into thinking The Clackity had something to do with Halloween. I guess because it has the perfect Halloween cover with orange and black and greys and a wonderfully spooky illustration. The Clackity can definitely be read at any time, though. It's not set at Halloween, it just has a wonderful vibe to the book that does make it perfect for spooky season.
The illustration isn't limited to just the cover. The entire book has those awesome spooky illustrations sprinkled throughout the chapters. It really is a beautiful book.
As for the story, The Clackity is creepy and imaginative. In fact, The Clackity is so imaginative, I think it would appeal to fans of Catherine M. Valente. In the world that Evie enters, she has to go through all of these different settings and encounter different ghosts and monsters. It reminded me quite a bit of Coraline as well.
In the end, my rating for The Clackity is entirely subjective. I feel like I need to offer up some bigger explanation for why I'm only giving this three stars, but the truth is I loved getting to enter Senf's imaginative world and I loved the relationship between Evie and her aunt. Three stars means I liked it, and it just fits for me here.
Source: preordered purchase. This is a review of my reading experience.
This middle grade novel gave me some serious shivers - this may actually be the spookiest book I read all year because the creep/dread factor here is exceptionally high!
Evie lives in Blight Harbor (the seventh-most haunted town in America) with her Aunt Desdemona, who happens to be the local paranormal expert. When Aunt Des goes missing at the abandoned slaughterhouse on the edge of town, Evie begins a search (even though Aunt Des’s only strict rule is to stay out of the slaughterhouse!)
It’s here that Evie meets The Clackity, a strange creature living in the shadows and speaking in riddles, who strikes a “good and fair deal” to help get Des back …in exchange for the ghost of Blight Harbor’s infamous serial killer, John Jeffrey Pope.
Evie’s journey leads her to a row of seven houses: she must find the key to each and enter, where she encounters hungry witches and penny-eyed ghosts as the serial killer pursues her, hoping to add Evie to his twisted collection.
I mean, just writing that summary out makes me think, “How in the world was this a middle grade novel??!” but somehow it works well with spooky Coraline vibes and the atmosphere was pitch-perfect. I absolutely loved this book and have no doubt that my ten-year-old self would’ve devoured it, too!
Thanks to Atheneum Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Clackity is scheduled for release on June 28, 2022.
My 10-year-old and I both read this. Her opinion probably matters the most, since she's in the book's target demographic and all, and she loved it (gobbled it all up in one afternoon). She didn't find it scary, which was a plus in her mind as she's not fond of scary books, and thought it was very original.
I'm not so sure on that last point. Reviewers are comparing The Clackity to Coraline, which is fair, because in both books a spunky female protagonist must rescue her parental figure(s) from a creepy, slightly-off version of our world using her wits and a few supernatural gifts, with the help of an animal companion, while avoiding creepy bad guys with weird eyes. And the fact that Neil Gaiman also has a creepy short story called Click-Clack the Rattlebag...it feels a little derivative, right?
But I'm being nit-picky. It was a cute story, gently and respectfully handling heavy topics like grief and faith. The illustrations are fantastic, and it's just the right amount of spooky for kids who don't want to have trouble falling asleep later. Nothing is too lurid and the child's own imagination supplies most of the tension. It's a keeper.
(I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway.)
This isn't quite what I thought or hoped it would be.. However it is a very unique twist on a haunted house. I don't think I've read about a haunted house like this but it was very entertaining and fun. Although there were spooky elements, it wasn't as spooky as I expected it to be. I've read middle grade books creepier than this one. So with that being said, I think this is a great starter book for anyone interested not just in getting into spooky middle grade but horror in general. I also think my enjoyment of this book would have been a lot better had I read it physically rather than listening to the audio book. 🤷🏼♀️ But it was still an enjoyable read and I do recommend.
The Clackity was the cozy, spooky book I needed. The cover is amazing and really does the story and vibe of the book justice. Evie lives in Blight Harbor with her Aunt Desdemona who is a Paranormal expert. One day her Aunt goes missing and it's up to Evie to find and rescue her. I don't want to give too much away as it's best to go in not knowing a lot. This book talks about anxiety in a relateable, clever way. I would have loved having a book like this in my younger years. The town of Blight Harbor and the characters were my favorite parts of the book. The atmosphere was spooky and creepy at times but, there was such heart that I can't help, but feel cozy after reading this. So glad I took a chance on this book and I hope there are more books set in this world in the future.
When I received this book I was going to give it to my grandchildren to read. They are in 6th and 7th grade. I read the first page and was captivated. Forget the grandchildren, I couldn't put this book down. I did give it to them after I finished it and they loved it as much as I did. The Clackity is a creepy story about Evie Von Rathe who lives with her aunt Desdemona in Blight Harbor. Something strange happens when Aunt Des begins to investigate the local abattoir. Only Evie can bring her aunt back. You will love the characters and the journey you travel through with Evie. I felt like I knew every character in the book and the plot is full of suspense. You become part of the story. I caught myself holding my breath. Highly recommend for all ages old and young. I am sixty-three and I loved every minute of it. Ready for your next great book Lora Senf.
If you'd told me ten years ago I'd come to love horror-spiced stories, I wouldn't have believed you. While I can't do lotsa gore, gimme the spooky atmosphere and high stakes of horror-spiced tales! I'm ALL IN. Now to get my grubby hands on this one...
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher. I was not paid for this review. All thoughts are my own and not influenced by the publisher in any way.
If I’d read this one at a different time in my life, I would have probably blown right through it in a day or so. Apologies that my review is a couple of days past the publication date (June 28th).
This book, even though it’s geared toward younger readers, is DEFINITELY up my alley! It reminded me a bit of James and the Giant Peach, Labyrinth, and Kelly Martin’s Fake Nora when it came to the fantasy elements and tone. This is a light horror-fantasy book, though there were still a couple of scenes that somewhat unsettled me.
The writing style was down-to-earth and easy to read. All of the characters were interesting and I especially liked Evelyn, our main character, Bird, Lily, and Grey. Evelyn’s relationship with her Aunt Des is so loving and vivid that I could feel it coming off of the page.
The adventure Evelyn must go on to save what is most dear to her is also a fun, though strange time. There are a lot of fantastical elements in this story. I especially enjoyed the ghost-pennies house and meeting the three witches. This would make for an interesting adaptation.
The panic attacks portrayed were realistic and Evelyn’s family trauma was well crafted and made her biggest fear in life understandable. The Clackity is an unsettling creature as well, especially in the ways it makes itself known throughout the book.
This is the kind of book that I would have killed for as a kid. The setting is atmospheric and while things are spooky and sometimes unsettling (especially the thought of real life horrors like losing someone), it also managed to be fun. I feel like this is a story that I’ll keep thinking about.
If you or a middle-grade aged kid in your life enjoys spooky adventure stories with fantasy elements, I’d highly recommend checking it out. The Clackity is now out!
*I could't open the file from Netgalley, so I bought this book.
My 8 year old and I have been reading creepy mysteries, and this is one of my favorites so far! Evelyn lives with her aunt Des in a town called Blight Harbor. This is a town where everyone has a ghost, and creepy happenings are the norm. One day, her aunt goes to an old and abandoned slaughterhouse to investigate something. That something disappears her aunt. Evelyn has to get her aunt back. She has to. So she goes off to the slaughterhouse to find her aunt. And she finds a monster instead. She makes a deal with the Clackity to get her aunt back, but she has to bring it the ghost of a local serial killer. Like every fantastic quest, she's given a set of vague instructions and off she goes. Luckily she finds herself with a small friend in the form of a shadow sparrow tattoo. It's very cool. You guys. You guys! This book is intense. As in constant action. Constant flipping of pages. Constant feeling on the edge of your seat. Evie is a fantastic heroine, and her quest is scary and exciting all at the same time. My daughter and I read it before bed, and I would catch her up with her book light reading far later than when I had tucked her in. She told me to give this book 100 stars. Since I can only give it 5 here, that will have to do, but as per my 8 year old, this is 100 stars.
*Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for this ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.*
There was no shortage of otherworldly concerns in Blight Harbor, mainly because it was the seventh most haunted town in America (per capita). - first line
Verdict: I loved this eerie tale filled with darkness, ghosts, witches, creepy beings, a tattooed sparrow, and a whole lot of heart.
Evie is a brave, determined girl, despite her anxiety and doubts, and refuses to let anything stop her from saving Aunt Des. The Clackity (the dark entity that lives in the abandoned slaughter house) sends Evie on a quest to bring back the ghost of serial killer John Jeffrey Pope. It promises her that if she does that, she can save her aunt. The Clackity is terrifying and completely untrustworthy, but Evie doesn’t have much of a choice. She must solve the riddle of each house and get past the inhabitants including witches, penny-eyed ghosts, and a memory thief to hopefully find Aunt Des and rescue her.
The illustrations are amazing and add to the eerie atmosphere. The book is definitely scary, but not over the top in my opinion, for middle grade readers. I will hand this book to the middle grade readers in my library constantly asking for scary books. I hope Lora Senf writes more books in the town of Blight Harbor so we can learn more about Evie and her parents.
This middle grade horror is perfect for fans of Coraline—which the spooky cover immediately reminded me of!
Set in the very haunted town of Blight Harbor, it follows Evie, who has been living with her paranormal specialist aunt ever since the disappearance of her parents after a mysterious house fire.
Blight Harbor is also the location of a string of horrid murders committed by a since dead serial killer who kept pieces of his victims as trophies. When Evie follows her aunt to her latest job, at the slaughterhouse the killer worked at while alive, she’s immediately beset by an ominous feeling—which comes to pass after her aunt disappears.
Evie is then thrown into a race against time to save her and bring her back from the other side by an unnerving creature called the Clackity and the poltergeist of the bygone murderer, helped and hindered by various beings who live in this world.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the beautiful prose and serious themes. It might be written for a middle school audience, but it doesn’t patronize to them and that results in a truly eerie read, even for adults.
The second Blight Harbor novel just had a cover reveal and I’m looking forward to it!
Middle Grade and Young Adult horror are currently in a strong position, and Lora Senf’s entertaining debut The Clackity fits perfectly into the ten-to-thirteen age bracket and is a terrific gateway read for kids who do not want to be scared too much just yet. It is also brimming with striking cartoonish black-and-white drawings by Alfredo Cáceres, which add atmosphere and nicely breaks up the chapters for younger readers. Getting the balance of chills and threats at the correct level in a Middle-Grade novel is never easy and Lora Senf does an excellent job in delivering an eerie chiller which doubles up as a page-turner. The ten-year-old version of myself would have undoubtedly devoured this in a couple of sittings!
This is exactly what I needed. I haven't been feeling some of my books lately so a friend and I decided it was time for some spooky middle grade fun. I LOVE some spooky MG reads when I'm feeling blah. They are like the cozy mysteries of the horror genre.
The Clackity is a FUN read too. I absolutely adore Evie. The journey she takes to save her aunt is spooky too! A few times I was loke...ummm are we sure this is for MG?😂
Perfect read for those who love this type of book during Spooktober but don't like gore and blood. This gave me gothic horror vibes and had feels of books like Coraline. Definitely recommend this one.
I sincerely appreciate the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. While a review wasn't expected, I have offered my opinion and these are my own thoughts.
What a fantastic little book! Getting to hang out with Evie and Bird was so fun. Also, this world that Lora Senf has created was so so amazing. I really enjoyed seeing the differences between our world and theirs. I also really loved seeing Evie navigate this world and she is such a tenacious and strong character that even in her moments of doubt she kept going. Definitely a fun adventure full of family, friendship, spooks, and bravery!
This story nails the spooky fall vibes and reads like watching a cozy Halloween movie. While the worldbuilding is quite fascinating, I found this book quite lacking in character depth. Still one I'd recommend if you're in the mood for a chill autumn read, like a much tamer version of Neil Gaiman's Coraline in terms of scare factor.