Friday, November 11, 2022

Middle-Grade Review: Denis Ever After

For my last audio book for the R.I.P Challenge in October, I chose a middle-grade novel, Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott. I loved every minute of this combination murder mystery-ghost story!

The narrator of this novel, Denis, is dead. He died when he was seven years old, and it's now been five years since he arrived in Port Haven, a sort of interim place the dead go to shed their lives and prepare to move on. He's been hanging out with GeeGee, his great-grandmother, who mentions the five-year anniversary to him one day. Startled by how much time has passed, Denis decides to look in on his twin brother, Matt, and his parents. What he sees is disturbing. They have not moved on. Matt has become obsessed with finding out what happened to Denis. All they know is that Denis was kidnapped and his body was later found at Gettysburg, on the Georgia monument there. Not knowing what happened has also torn his dad apart and caused friction between his parents. There are some negative consequences for Denis, but he decides he must pass back through the barrier between dead and living (not just look through it) to help his brother. Once Matt sees Denis, the two boys begin to investigate his death and the events leading up to it. Denis doesn't remember anything about that time. With their dad's help (though only Matt can see Denis), they return to the amusement park where Denis went missing and from there, look for clues or something that might trigger memories of that awful day. As they continue to look into it and get closer to some answers, Denis begins to have flashes of memory and passes that information onto Matt, as the boys put the pieces of the puzzle together.

While this is, at its center, a murder mystery, there is so much more to this wonderful novel. It's an in-depth look at the grief of a family, and the different ways that people cope. Denis and Matt's relationship as twin brothers is at the heart of the story, and it is filled with emotional depth. The characters here are fully formed and feel real. I loved the sections describing Port Haven and its inhabitants and the gentle process of adjustment that occurs after death, much like what their loved ones left behind are going through. As for the mystery itself, it's a suspenseful one, with plenty of surprise twists in store. The audio production was excellent and fully immersed me in the story. I enjoyed everything about this novel and look forward to reading more of Tony Abbott's books.

NOTE: This is a middle-grade novel, but some of the scenes--as Denis begins to remember and essentially relive the terror of what happened to him--might be too much for younger readers. I think that older middle-grade and young teen readers will love this book as much as I did.

320 pages, Katherine Tegen Books

This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:


Diversity Challenge

R.I.P. Challenge


Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, narrated by Kirby Heyborne, and/or download it from Audible. In the sample, Denis describes Port Haven, Gee Gee, and the tiny glimpses of memory he has from his death.


You can buy the book through, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!



Or you can order Denis Ever After from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Oh this sounds really good! I'll add it to my TBR list. Thank you!