"Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1: Professor Gargoyle", by Charles Gilman, published in 2012, is one in a quartet of young adult books, detailing the happenings at a haunted middle school in Massachusetts. As the name suggests, it is based on aspects of the Cthulu mythos, as interpreted in a Young Adult series book.

The book begins with our protagonist, Robert Arthur, standing outside his new middle school, where he has been redistricted into. The school is full of strangers, and it turns out that the one kid familiar to him, Glenn Torkels, was the school bully from his old school, and still is going to extort his lunch money. This frustration is followed by discovering that the school, supposedly state of the art and new, is full of odd happenings, such as an infestation of rats. In fact, Arthur finds a two-headed rat, as well as an odd attic full of musty books in the school library. A teacher, the titular "Professor (Gar) Goyle", is also menacing our protagonist. What is up with the two headed rat? Who is the mysterious Karina Ortiz? Will Glenn and Goyle continue to torment him?

Most of the answers to these questions come in a form typical to young adult series books. There are some valuable lessons learned about friendship and bravery and keeping an open mind. As well as some supernatural mysteries presented, solved and teased. It is standard fare, non-offensive, interesting even, and with a 3D cover. And, I bought it at The Dollar Tree, so a reasonable investment. My problem with this book is that it borrows the cachet of HP Lovecraft, borrows his concepts, gives a knowing wink to this esoteric source material, and then...uses it for such a tame story. I am not saying that a book has to go full on goth, but the characters seem to be living as timeless kids, with personalities that would fit into Encyclopedia Brown. In 2012, were bullies stealing lunch money? Bullies were serious figures by then, not stock menaces stealing lunch money. And our protagonist, in this book whose title hints at gothic mystery, seems to have no hints of subcultural affiliation or rebelliousness, just being a typical kid that could live in the 1980s or 1970s.

So it was an okay book, but given the title, I am disappointed, for once, that a book didn't try to be just a little bit edgy.