The Merry Dredgers – Jeremy C. Shipp

Phina is dressed as a princess when she learns her sister has joined a cult. Eff has written her a letter on a series of postcards, assuring Phina that she most definitely hasn’t joined a cult. As you well know, this means Eff has absolutely, positively joined a cult. Phina agrees.

Right now, all I know for sure is that my sister definitely joined a cult, and I need to find a way to save her.

Before she can come up with a rock solid plan to extricate Eff, Phina learns that her sister has come into contact with some solid rocks. Eff has been in an “accident”, if you think a cult member falling into a quarry soon after telling a family member that they’ve joined a not cult isn’t suspicious.

Phina goes into investigation mode, deciding that the only way she’ll be able to narrow down the list of suspects is to join said cult.

Eff always likes to talk about the crossroads moments in a person’s life, and this definitely feels like one of those.

Welcome to Goblintropolis, home of the Merry Dredgers. Side bar: If your cult wants to recruit me, it would help your cause considerably if your commune’s located in an abandoned amusement park.

This was one of those books that I flew through, wanting to know what was next even as I asked myself what on earth I was reading. I had a similar experience with this book as I did with The Atrocities, absolutely loving it until the very end.

I was hooked until the final couple of pages, when an element of the story that I’d hoped would drag on for a while resolved almost instantaneously. I have a few unanswered questions but am mostly okay with having those linger.

Sometimes the banter between Phina and Nichelle seemed a bit forced but this could be explained by Phina’s need to fit in quickly with the Merry Dredgers.

I want to visit Goblintropolis. I’m most looking forward to seeing the eyeball tree. I love that someone’s trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

New favourite insult:

“She’s nothing but a spud-brained charlatan.”

Content warnings include mention of domestic abuse.

Thank you so much to Meerkat Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Seraphina Ramon will stop at nothing to find out the truth about why her sister Eff is in a coma after a very suspicious “accident.” Even if it means infiltrating the last place Seraphina knows Eff was alive: a once-abandoned amusement park now populated by a community of cultists.

Follow Seraphina through the mouth of the Goblin: To the left, a wolf-themed rollercoaster rests on the blackened earth, curled up like a dead snake. To the right, an animatronic Humpty Dumpty falls off a concrete castle and shatters on the ground, only to reform itself moments later. Up ahead, cultists giggle as they meditate in a hall of mirrors. This is the last place in the world Seraphina wants to be, but the best way to investigate this bizarre cult, is to join them.