July 11, 2020

The Book of Fatal Errors

By Dashka Slater
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Rufus has never made a mistake. “Mistake” is too small a word for what Rufus does. No, Rufus makes fatal errors. He gets excited about a bird called a masked booby in front of his whole class, or sits on a bundle of berries that stain the back of his pants—situations that make being around other people unbearable. But summer means no more school, and, Rufus thinks, no more fatal errors. But this is the summer everything changes for Rufus.

With his dad out of work and his mom moving out of state for a job, Rufus is looking forward to spending the summer with his grandfather at his home, which is called Feylawn. Feylawn has always been a persnickety place, but when things get out of hand and his dad bars him from visiting the property, Rufus must conspire with his cousin Abigail in order to sneak back in. Together, the two discover that there’s much more to Feylawn than meets the eye, and Rufus’ next fatal error could be his last.

A seamless combination of fantasy and mystery wrapped around a classical coming-of-age narrative, Dashka Slater’s The Book of Fatal Errors grabs the readers hand from the first page and tugs them along at a breakneck pace through twist after twist. Slater is careful not to lose track of the complex relationships among Rufus and the various members of his family; as a result, the book’s magical elements feel grounded in emotional realism. Put this fun tale into the hands of any kid who’s ever wished to find fairies in the backyard.

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