Published by Little Brown on October 4, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade
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Welcome to Elizabeth Webster's world, where the common laws of middle school torment her days . . . and the uncommon laws of an even weirder realm govern her nights. Elizabeth Webster is happy to stay under the radar (and under her bangs) until middle school is dead and gone. But when star swimmer Henry Harrison asks Elizabeth to tutor him in math, it's not linear equations Henry really needs help with--it's a flower-scented, poodle-skirt-wearing, head-tossing ghost who's calling out Elizabeth's name.
But why Elizabeth? Could it have something to do with her missing lawyer father? Maybe. Probably. If only she could find him. In her search, Elizabeth discovers more than she is looking for: a grandfather she never knew, a startling legacy, and the secret family law firm, Webster & Son, Attorneys for the Damned. Elizabeth and her friends soon land in court, where demons and ghosts take the witness stand and a red-eyed judge with a ratty white wig hands out sentences like sandwiches. Will Elizabeth's father arrive in time to save Henry Harrison--and is Henry the one who really needs saving?
Set in the historic streets of Philadelphia, this riveting middle-grade mystery from New York Times best-selling author William Lashner will have readers banging their gavels and calling for more from the incomparable Elizabeth Webster.
This was a book my 9 year old and I have been reading. She DNF’d the book, I continued on with it.
It’s fine. It’s got a neat premise.
At lunch, geeky, quiet Elizabeth Webster is sitting near her couple friends when the most popular boy in school sits with her. He tells her that he needs help with math.
She agrees and goes to his house where he tells her she’s actually there because has a ghost in his house and he needs her help. She is shocked by the fact he lied to get her to his house, the fact he just told her he had a ghost problem and expected her to take that in stride, and the fact that he expects her to help.
He says the ghost said her name, so here he is, finding her, and asking for help. Then the ghost appears. Lizzie is so freaked out she runs out of the house and tumbles down a hill. But Henry followed.
So she nopes out of there real quick and Henry persists. Finally she decides she needs to find her absentee father since he’s a lawyer. Her stepdad is a lawyer too, but Lizzie’s father is a “lawyer for the damned,” whatever that means.
If you’ve ever seen Beetlejuice, imagine that waiting room in the afterlife. That’s exactly how I pictured the waiting room in Webster and Son.
The good news is that her grandfather is there and willing to help. The bad news is that she has to serve the ghost eviction papers. The law clerk Barnabas helps with that, and next thing you know, Lizzie is doing her best to help Henry. Except…she still hasn’t seen her father.
The story is unique, creative, and has the potential for a good series, but it definitely drags, and the middle school falls victim to every teen/tween stereotype possible.
The ending was intriguing and left room for sequels, I want to know more about her mother, and the deal the Websters made with the devil.
This is definitely a middle grade novel. My rule of thumb is to look at the characters’ ages. They’re primarily 6th graders here, but I would say this book could be for younger audiences too, as long as you don’t mind them reading about ghosts, deals with Ol’ Scratch himself, and a succubus.
***We borrowed this book from the library