Reviewer Ekta Garg: Ekta has actively written and edited since 2005 for publications like: The Portland Physician Scribe; the Portland Home Builders Association home show magazines; ABCDlady; and The Bollywood Ticket. With an MSJ in magazine publishing from Northwestern University Ekta also maintains The Write Edge- a professional blog for her writing. In addition to her writing and editing, Ekta maintains her position as a “domestic engineer”—housewife—and enjoys being a mother to two beautiful kids.
Author: Obert Skye
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
In a fit of anger a father takes his children to the gate of a school and leaves them there, hoping to scare them into obeisance. The siblings enter the school; they think their father will come back for them and decide to wait him out. Instead the school enrolls them, more or less against their will, and the brother and sister must find a way to escape if they want to reunite with their father. Author Obert Skye gives readers this creepy plot that offers absolutely no redeeming factors in Witherwood Reform School.
Tobias and Charlotte Eggers really dislike their newest nanny. She treats them badly and speaks to them as if they’re stupid, and Tobias and Charlotte have had enough. They play a prank on the nanny, but the prank goes horribly wrong and their father comes home right in the middle of it.
Since his wife died Ralph Eggers has had a hard time managing Tobias and Charlotte. All of them still suffer from grief, and none of them know quite how to help one another. Ralph keeps hiring nannies; Tobias and Charlotte keep upsetting them.
Their latest prank kicks Ralph’s anger into overdrive. He orders the kids into the car and drives them to the gate of the Witherwood Reform School. In the midst of their disbelief and the rain, he convinces the kids that they need to get out of the car. Without a look back he drives away.
Tobias and Charlotte don’t know what to do at first, but they finally decide to go inside the school. Surely, they try to convince one another, he’ll come back. In the meantime they need to get out of the rain, and the school offers them the most logical choice for a place to wait.
From the time they enter the school, though, the siblings know something is terribly wrong. When they get enrolled in the school, despite their vociferous protests, they realize the school isn’t just a school. It’s really a prison, and they have inadvertently become its latest inmates.
Author Obert Skye succeeds in one major aspect of his novel: he sets a creepy enough tone to keep readers frowning throughout the entire book. Tobias and Charlotte are plucky protagonists, but their circumstances don’t offer them any redemption—anywhere. Skye has taken the writer’s basic rule of dialing up conflict and turned the knob all the way into the red zone.
From the time Tobias and Charlotte enter the school, they encounter negative situations. None of these situations offer them even the slightest glimmer of hope. While readers might get intrigued by the first handful of negative instances, any compelling read will give its protagonists just a hint of light before dousing the entire scene in darkness again. Tobias and Charlotte, however, walk through the entire book wearing metaphorical blindfolds. At some point readers will get frustrated with those blindfolds.
I recommend readers Bypass Witherwood Reform School.