Image: A girl and a man are silhouetted in black against a green background with a white meteor shining above them. Text: "Buttercup Sunshine and the House on Hangman's Hill. Colin Mulhern."

KidLit Book Review: Buttercup Sunshine and the House on Hangman’s Hill by Colin Mulhern


Things are getting a little weird in Briar’s Cove. There’s a zombie invasion after a strange meteorite crashed into the graveyard and Buttercup’s own beloved Granny is now one of the undead. Buttercup is more determined than ever to sort out this mess. But when a mysterious house appears on Hangman’s Hill, Buttercup may find she has other, monstrous things to deal with…


  • Title: Buttercup Sunshine and the House on Hangman’s Hill
  • Series: Briar’s Cove Series, Book 2
  • Author/Illustrator: Colin Mulhern
  • Cover Artist: Colin Mulhern
  • Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781848864092
  • Publication Date: August 28, 2019
  • For Ages: 7-9
  • Category: Chapter Book
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.


Buttercup Sunshine’s world gets weirder and spookier in the second book in the Briar’s Cove Series, as she tries her best to save the world from zombies despite plenty of distractions from a bumbling mailman, mutant bunny rabbits, and a certain Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The deliciously dry humor and silly sight gags that I loved so much in the first book are back, as is everyone’s favorite secret agent handler Barry the toad.

Buttercup shows once again that she should be everyone’s first pick in the Zombie Apocalypse Draft – she’s intelligent, brave, level-headed, and eager to help. That eagerness gets her in a bit of trouble, however, when she has to make a special postal delivery to a mysterious doctor’s house in the middle of her zombiemergency. After she shows up on Dr. Frankenstein’s doorstep with a package containing some shiny new bolts, he recruits Buttercup to be his assistant in an experiment that will lead to dire consequences for Briar’s Cove.

In addition to Colin Mulhern’s sense of humor and his clear affection for the macabre, one of the things I appreciate most about his series is how much he obviously respects kids. Nearly every encounter Buttercup has with an adult shows something that all kids know but that many adults seem to forget: grown-ups don’t listen to kids, especially when it comes to the really important stuff. Buttercup is trying to prevent the actual end of the world, but the adults she encounters can’t hear what she’s telling them because they’re too wrapped up in their own agendas to listen to her.

They’re also too blinded by the idea of the “good little girl” to take her seriously. They look at an adorable girl in a pretty dress and see someone docile and frivolous, rather than the chainsaw-wielding zombie expert we know her to be. Buttercup herself falls into this trap by doing what the adults tell her to do – she delivers the package for the cowardly mailman who is (understandably) reluctant to knock on the door of the spooky new house on Hangman’s Hill, and she obeys Dr. Frankenstein’s orders as he commits some light necromancy. Buttercup knows she has more pressing concerns – after all, a horde of zombies is shambling toward the center of town – but she also knows her manners, so she does as the grown-ups say. It’s a cheeky send-up of social niceties and the burdensome expectations we place on kids to be obedient no matter what.

The zombie threat still looms over the story, but this tale is a fun detour from the events of the first book. Mulhern seems determined to make Briar’s Cove as wacky and creepy as possible, and it’s a thrill to see Buttercup Sunshine’s universe expand to include classic horror characters and new monsters to defeat. Buttercup’s next step in her quest to save the world will take her straight through the most hilariously named swamp in existence, so I can’t wait to see what she faces in the third installment. The wit, charm, and chaotic spookiness of this series make it one of my favorite things in bookstores right now. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re in for a real treat.


I’m so glad Buttercup Sunshine is back! I give this book 4.5 out of 5 coffins.

4.5 Coffins

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