Sunday, 23 August 2009
June 2009, MacMillan Children's Books
Yunaleska's recommended rating ♥♥♥♥
First of all, I must talk about the illustrations in this book. The eye on the front cover is cleverly placed at the bottom of every right page. What might be hard to discern from the picture is that each letter is decorated with an object related to the book (a candle, a key, a butterfly etc). A nice touch, which gets the reader thinking before they even open up the book. I simply love the vibrant turquoise colour of the inside front and back pages.
On to the book itself. The title directly relates to the story, for young Hector falls on hard times when his father is blackmailed by a man with one eye. He has to leave his rich past behind, and learn the ways of the street to survive. He doesn't fend for himself because he is soon taken in by a rather religious woman, who looks after waifs and strays. From there he actually finds employment for an aristocrat who hides a lot of secrets. Hector is happy in his new job for he is close to the one eyed man. All that keeps Hector going is his desire for revenge, despite warnings against treading that particular path. When the time comes for action, will Hector avenge his father's downfall?
There is a fair balance of beauty and gruesome objects/acts in this book. I'd say its definitely aimed more at boys who will love some of the details which could turn a delicate stomach. There is no doubting the eye collector's (the character, not the book) level of evil: he'll stop at nothing to achieve what he wants. What was particularly interesting were the riddles which Hector comes up with, and also gets given. I couldn't work them out at all - thankfully F E Higgins provides explanations at the back of the book. It was fun how every now and then a chapter would be Hector's letters to his friend, giving a closer insight into what actually happened during the story and his feelings at that time.
The twists of Hector's final employer's character took me by surprise, as did the ending. It was the method of certain characters' downfall rather than the fact that they got what they deserved which had me thinking 'this is a good book'. I learnt a fair amount about butterflies, and the means of collecting them, which I'd never known before now.
F E Higgins' website has the same appearance as his book covers, and is found here.
If you liked this, try The Spook's Mistake by Joseph Delaney