The Demon Collector by Jon Mayhew
Continuing the spooky theme, my second book this week is by a new fav author of mine, Jon Mayhew. If you like horror, but can’t always get it past your parents, this is a guy to look out for.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Company
Edgy Taylor can see demons and after an accident (during which his disgusting ‘carer’ is discovered to also be a demon), Edgy is taken into the care of the Royal Society of Demon Studies. There he learns the story of the enemy of Satan, Moloch, and the mystery of where his body is hidden. Meanwhile, just why does Salomé, the bride of Satan, have such an interest in his well-being and who is it who keeps trying to kill him in the Demon Society’s HQ? I mean, what makes a young boy so worrying to demons he needs to be bumped off?
The first chapter is a real page-turner; within the first page, Edgy spots another boy running for his life from a mysterious pursuer, right into the path of an oncoming carriage. This being the Victorian era and street urchins not being especially high on carriage-drivers list of priorities, the carriage unfortunately goes right over the boy and Edgy is left to wonder what was so terrifying the boy didn’t even bother to look before dashing out into the road.
Mayhew has a talent for gripping writing and for being able to give away enough twists to the story without the ending becoming clear. The twist at the end of the book took me by surprise, even though I can usually spot them fairly early on (I guess that’s what happens when you read a lot). I especially love his use of folk tales and songs – at the start of each chapter there’s a snippet from a piece of national legend or song that links to the chapter in some way, but never in any way that will leave you knowing what’s going to happen next. As another enthusiast for folktales and myths I LOVE this little touch, enough to go hunting the Interwebs soon after finishing for some more ballads to geek out over. Plus, it lends a suitably spooky slant to each chapter before you start it.
Unsurprisingly, this was put on the longlist for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2012 and even though it didn’t make it to the shortlist, it’s easy to see why it was nominated at least. I’m especially intrigued as to how Mayhew has written a book about demons that manages to not be too scary. It’s brilliant – I am the world’s biggest wimp when it comes to books giving me the heebie-jeebies but I could happily read this in my darkened bedroom with only a bedside light and NOT need that light to stay on the rest of the night. Rather handy when a kid wants horror but parents don’t want anything too scary, this satisfies both. It’s a little like Scream Street in that respect, only darker and definately for older kids.
In short, I’ve happily made my way through Mortlock (Mayhew’s other book) already and I am STILL geeking out over the folklore thing. Really unusual book and a great action/mystery read to boot as well as a horror book.