Deadman’s Castle by Iain Lawrence is a psychological thriller of sorts for a middle grade audience. I greatly enjoyed this book, full of mystery and with a dose of suspense.

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The summary, from Amazon:

For most of his life, Igor and his family have been on the run. Danger lurks around every corner–or so he’s always been told. . . .

When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime–and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name.

But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder–what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind?

Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life–making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them–is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all?

Iain Lawrence is a winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Children’s Literature Prize and the California Young Reader Medal. In Deadman’s Castle, he brings readers a mystery filled with intrigue and moments of heart-stopping danger.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Buy Deadman’s Castle here.

Igor doesn’t even remember his real name. When he was very young, his father witnessed a crime. Since then, Igor’s family has been on the run, constantly changing their name and moving towns when their Protectors tell them to. Igor’s father says that a man, who Igor thinks of as the Lizard Man due to a tattoo he has, is after them because of what Igor’s father saw.

But when the family moves yet again, Igor has had enough. He decides he wants friends and asks to go to school. Finally, his parents allow him, and Igor does make friends. As he gets to know more people, he begins to wonder, is everything he grew up knowing true? Or is his father paranoid? Igor struggles to figure out what’s real and what could be in his family’s imagination, especially after his little sister claims to see the Lizard Man.

This was such a good read. I don’t know why, but I didn’t go in expecting much. Instead, I read a slow burn psychological suspense novel for kids, culminating in an action-packed few chapters. I was left guessing almost up until the end what was real and what might be made up, just like Igor. 5 stars!

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Deadman's CastleDeadman’s Castle by Iain Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A psychological, domestic thriller for kids. Greatly enjoyed.

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Book Club Questions

  1. What were your theories while reading this novel? Did you think Igor’s father really saw a crime, or did you think some things about the story made up?
  2. What do you think it would be like to always be on the run and have to change your name?
  3. Why do Igor and Bumble want to stay in this house?

Interested? Buy Deadman’s Castle.
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