The Phantom Tower by Keir Graff (ARC Review)

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Twin brothers discover their new home is also a portal–for an hour a day–to a parallel dimension in this rollicking middle-grade adventure, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society 

Colm and Mal are twins so identical their own mom can’t tell them apart, but they’re different in just about every other way. Mal’s a pragmatist while Colm’s a dreamer, and they bicker and battle constantly. Neither brother is excited to be moving to Chicago for a fresh start with their mom just after their dad’s death. But nothing cures homesickness like intrigue–and their new home, Brunhild Tower, has plenty of it: mysterious elderly neighbors who warn against wandering the building at midday, strange sounds in the walls, and an elevator missing a button for the thirteenth floor.

One day, that button appears–and when the doors open on the missing floor, the boys are greeted by the strangest puzzle yet: a twin building that is stuck in time and bustling with activity. All of Brunhild Tower’s former residents live on in this phantom tower, where the rules of the real world don’t apply. But when the brothers and their newfound friends discover they’re all trapped by an ancient curse, they must band together to set everyone free before it’s too late.

Thank you so much for Penguin for sending me over a copy of this book – I’ll be participating in the blog tour for this book next week but it doesn’t affect my opinion of the book!

This was adorable and fun and just the happy go lucky Middle Grade I was looking for.

Graff created such an intriguing premise – we have two twins that move into a new apartment building that has a phantom tower living inside of it. I felt like it was super well done and well explained, and I loved diving into this phantom tower world. It was so intriguing to see all the little things that would pop up, and there were some great characters that would come into the story.

The characters were pretty good as well. I liked Colm, Mal, and Tamika who were our main characters. I feel like I never really see any good, realistic brother relationships in YA or MG, and this book showed it. They were messy with each other and liked to kick each other’s buts, but there was some underlying love there that they would never say. It felt really true, and I could understand Colm’s jealously about his brother as well. Colm, Mal, and Tamika were a great team, and I loved seeing their dynamic. Also, the way that Colm deals with his grief was moving and would teach kids a lot about how it’s okay to be sad and hang onto parts of those we love.

I did feel like the grouping seemed a bit young, though? These kids were 12, but honestly, I felt like they seemed more about 10? They certainly didn’t feel like they were about to be teenagers for me, and I felt like they need a bit more aging up or needed to in a younger age.

ariel tag
Ariel is all about exploring new places but maybe not anything with phantoms?

I thought the other characters were a bit interesting as well. The Phantom Tower guests were cool, and I did love The Princess. She was classic, kooky and quirky lady, and I loved reading and finding out more about her. I felt like I had a few issues with the villain at times. I felt like he got a little TOO cartoonish like cackling with evil laughter and shaking his fist at the world. After a while, his motivations came out and he was given a little more depth, but he was cartoon for a little while.

The pacing was okay. It would have its moment of a lot of “oh, gotta know what’s going to happen” but also I could sit it down for a while and not pick it up for a few days.

Overall, this was a fun little MG book that brought an intriguing concept to life. I thought it brought a lot of fun and had a wonderful premise with some great characters. Its pacing and its villain were a little off at times, but I thought it did pick back up at the end. If you’re looking for a dive deeper into MG, this book is definitely a very good stepping stone! 4 crowns and an Ariel rating!

four stars

What do you think? What are some of your favorite middle grade books? Are you into middle grade books as well? Let’s discuss in the comments below!



12 thoughts on “The Phantom Tower by Keir Graff (ARC Review)

  1. Ahh yes, the issue of the classic mustache-twirling villain. They are rather prevalent in MG, aren’t they? (No shade to the genre, it’s my favorite genre, but I think it’s true 😛 ). And it’s interesting you say the characters needed to be aged up! I feel like most books tend to have the opposite issue, so it seems like it’s a good AND bad thing at the same time. 😉 Terrific review!

    Liked by 1 person

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