Misfit's Magic

The Last Halloween

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
354 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I grew up in Pennsylvania in the sixties/seventies/eighties and now reside just outside Boston Massachusetts. After attending six different colleges and studying many different subjects (art, electronics, computer science, psychology), I earned a B.S. in Psychology from Framingham State University and later in life, an M.A. in Human Relations, Specializing in Holistic Counseling Psychology, from Lesley University (psychology is one of my passions).

I discovered my love for writing and storytelling as I read books to my children. On a whim, I started telling them ad-hoc stories, and that lead to me writing premeditated ones (they liked those better). I work as a software engineer, which I love, but there are few things I love as much as sitting down to craft language and bring my characters and their world to life.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Misfit’s Magic: The Last Halloween is a work of fiction in the fantasy subgenre and serves as the opening installment of the Misfit’s Magic series. It is aimed at young adult readers and was penned by author Fred Gracely. The book follows a young boy named Goff who is an outcast suddenly granted incredible magical powers. When he is thrust into a battle against a corrupt master of the magical arts who wants to hoard power for himself, Goff must overcome the difficulties of his childhood so far with the help of his new friends as they fight back against the army of monsters hunting them.

I had a wonderful time with this story which painted an intense but charming picture of magic leaking into the otherwise ordinary life of a boy living on the outside of society looking in. Author Fred Gracely’s skill as a world builder is on show right from the very beginning as he masterfully introduces the rules and norms of the magical world as it seeps into the world we know. This robust establishing of the fantasy trappings is helped in no small part by protagonist Goff whose perspective on the events of the narrative gives the whole book a fresh and accessible feel. It’s a difficult task to write a compelling opener to a series, laying the foundations for the saga that is to come whilst also telling a complete and satisfying stand-alone story, but The Last Halloween accomplishes this goal with aplomb, creating a memorable tale with plenty of room for growth in future installments.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“Sometimes, the way to get what you want is by doing the opposite of what’s obvious.” Sage words from an eerie gargoyle, the creatures that are presumed to maintain the balance of magic. But those evil-looking creatures that hang from lofty positions on old buildings are on the lookout for the newest wizard, the one whose gifted magic must be contained, or all will be lost to the evil wizard whose powers are second to none. Misfit’s Magic: The Last Halloween by Fred Gracely introduces Goff, who is a mere boy aged thirteen. Orphaned and living in a dysfunctional foster home with a pair of orphaned twins, Goff must endure endless torture, bullied not just by the twins, but also by the foster dad and the other kids at school. A loner, he sees only one way out - to be granted a journalism scholarship to the prestigious Amworth Academy that will allow him to live at the academy while studying. To achieve this, Goff must write a story that will impress the selectors. He chooses a subject that has him exploring the evil magic of his community. In the process, Goff acquires some unexpected and unwanted magic of his own, not to mention a taxidermied, clever, and often funny black cat, the loving and equally bullied foster family dog, and the school skeleton that shattered when Goff touched it. Some things just never go right for this frightened young boy.

Fred Gracely’s middle-grade novel, Misfit’s Magic is an engaging page-turner of an adventure that will appeal to young readers who love stories full of magic and mayhem. The plot follows young Goff as he begins his research while fending off multiple bullying attacks from his peers until he’s confronted with the challenge of whether to accept the gift of magic. The story unravels in a concise and explicative way through the use of descriptive narrative and compelling and engaging dialogue. Young readers will instantly feel empathy for Goff as he faces one bully after another. As the adventure intensifies, young readers won’t be able to put the book down. Halloween approaches and magic, good and evil, clashes until the real magic of finally making some friends prevails. Goff starts to gain self-confidence and believes in himself and his self-worth. An important message that’s important for all young people to learn.

Liz Konkel

Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween is the first in a new series by Fred Gracely. Goff has only one goal – to get out of his current foster home and say goodbye to the town of Spraksville. All he needs is to write a paper about the town's weird history and he'll have a chance at a scholarship that will take him far away. Then during a visit to the cemetery, he catches two bald men digging up a grave and gargoyles come to life, which was weird enough, but then he is propelled into a destiny he didn't ask for. Soon he discovers that his own origins are tied to Spraksville's history, thanks to an ancestor that prevented the diabolic plan of an evil wizard. Now it's up to him to prevent a repeat of the same ritual. There's only one problem. His family paid the ultimate price for playing hero. They were placed under a curse that would prevent them from passing on magical genes which present an issue when dealing with an evil wizard. His chances are slim but with a few new allies, he might just have a chance at surviving. He's not sure about the rest of the world.

Fred Gracely delivers a world that is humorous, quirky, and original with darkness that lurks underneath in the fight between good and evil. Discovering magic gives Goff the opportunity to escape by giving him a purpose that teaches him to believe in himself. The story has an element of irony in how Goff's biggest desire was to leave Sprakville, only to discover that his story actually began in this town with his ancestors playing a prominent role in keeping it safe. The story puts a unique spin on the idea of magic and wizards with original elements such as Maxim (a personified concept of magic that has attached to a cat), the lady of the tree that delivers the truth behind his origins, and the ominous reaping. Gracely has a lighthearted writing style that weaves in subtle but vivid details such as a thin finger of silver fog creating a vortex and the ghost children floating over the ground without quite making contact. Goff begins the story running from various bullies including his own foster family but by the end, he's surrounded by a variety of characters that assist him in his destiny. Magic's Misfit is a fun action-adventure that places a unique spin on wizards and magic with a charming protagonist, quirky characters, and an epic battle against evil.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween by Fred Gracely is a YA fantasy story. Goff is a 13-year-old orphan living in a foster home from hell. Bullied mercilessly at school and home, he is desperate to win a scholarship to get into an elite boarding school. Suddenly, he stumbles across a secret – he has magic and is from a long line of wizards. He finds himself with some new friends, not least a skeleton from a school class and a taxidermy cat, and learns that a stranger in town is set to wreak havoc and only Goff and his friends can stop him. How do a group of teenagers, a dead cat, and a skeleton stop an army of soul-sucking demons and giant spiders? Do they have enough power to save the world? Or will it all be lost forever?

Misfit’s Magic: The Last Halloween by Fred Gracely is a great read, a fun story filled with magic and mystery. It’s not just about kids fighting evil though; it’s about dealing with bullying and finding a way to believe in yourself and your powers. Our main protagonist is wonderfully well developed and you’ll love his sidekicks – a group of other slightly misfit kids, a talking skeleton, and a taxidermy cat, a cast of characters that will delight you as they battle to save the world from evil. Fred Gracely has a talent, a way of bringing words to life on paper to make you feel you are there, facing those talking gargoyles and walking with Goff as he forms strong and unbreakable bonds with new friends. There is plenty going on in this story, with the short chapters making it easy to read. Be warned, though, each chapter ends leaving you wanting more and you won’t put this book down until you’re done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I hope there will be a sequel. I feel that Goff and his friends should go through many more adventures together.

Kristine Zimmerman

Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween by Fred Gracely is full of intrigue, action, and suspense. Goff is an orphan whose latest foster home is in a town called Spraksville. He now lives with Frank, his foster parent, and siblings Ben and Pam. Goff is bullied at home and school, but he is determined to change his circumstances. Goff is hoping to land a scholarship to a private school by writing an outstanding paper on Spraksville's history of witchcraft. Unbeknownst to Goff, his family history is entwined with the magic that starts swirling around Spraksville. As Halloween approaches, Goff and his new friends, Lydia and Halstrom, try desperately to find a way to save their town from the clutches of the evil Harkland Mathers. Will good triumph over evil?

Fred Gracely has written a thoroughly engaging story that captured my attention from the first page. Goff is a character you root for throughout the book as he struggles to maintain his sense of ethics through many trials. Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween celebrates the value of friendship and the power of good to triumph over evil. All the characters that Gracely has created are well-rounded and complex. The banter between Lydia and Halstrom is believable and provides some comic relief. Gracely also does a marvelous job of describing the town, from the menacing gargoyles to the autumn landscape. Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween will delight fans of Harry Potter and Septimus Heap. It is an original tale filled with wizardry and a great coming-of-age story.