Benjamin Ryan’s debut novel is an intricate magical weaving. You’ll have to take your time reading this one so as not to miss any details. It starts as a coming-of-age book. Boys in need of help with their issues are sent to Madame Eldridge’s Wayward Home in rural Virginia to learn and follow her 8 rules and leave better for it.

Madame Eldridge is eccentric and calls each boy by a name describing the issue that child needs to address: Fibbsy, Defiance, Secret, Slob, Bully, Etc. As the boys move through the program, we get to know them, they bond and grow, but it quickly becomes clear that something is not right in the home. Something magical, mysterious, and dangerous lurks on the forbidden third floor. Together the boys must uncover the secret and face it, if all 10 of them are to make it home.

For my regulars, note that this is a teen/YA book, not MG. An older middle grade reader who enjoys dark magic and complex plots could also enjoy this book.