Sunday, 21 February 2010

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew

April 2010, Bloomsbury Publishing
384 pages, Hardback
Uncorrected Proof Copy

Young Adult

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 3 (quite a lot, but schoolboy descriptions)
Smiles: 1
Tears: 0
Gerry’s recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥


The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician’s stage act, the brother an undertaker’s assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other’s existence. Until, that is, three terrible Aunts descend on the girl’s house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave. Cardamom was one of three explorers on an expedition to locate the legendary Amarant, a plant with power over life and death. Now, pursued by flesh-eating crow-like ghuls, brother and sister must decode the message and save themselves from its sinister legacy.

As I closed this book my immediate reaction was “WOW!”. It was soon followed by disappointment – you know the kind you get when your holiday is over and it’s time to go back to work or school. I didn’t want it to stop.

Josie is a knife thrower in a theatre act with her guardian who performs the most amazing magical feats. Josie is content except that her ‘Uncle’, Mr Chrimes aka Cardamom, has a drink problem. One day the ‘ladies’ come calling and Josie’s life becomes a battle to survive. Josie, a bit of a tom boy who finds many girls clothes uncomfortable to wear, finds she has a brother and together they set off to save themselves and the world from a fate worse than death.

From the moment the ‘ladies’ arrived until the book finally closed, I was kept on the edge of my seat with suspense.

There were some gory bits in it when characters are murdered by the ‘ladies’, but they were not overdone, it was schoolboy gory and though girls may not indulge in such gory fantasy I am sure they are used to it and won’t be put off.

When some of the characters are killed off there is emotion in Josie and Alfie, but it doesn’t reduce the reader to tears despite the fact that we know their pain, instead we are kept on the edge of our seats in pursuit of world salvation.

At times I found myself saying ‘They wouldn’t get away that easily!’ only to find I have pre-empted Jon and they haven’t got away.

Jon has written the characters convincingly and I had no problem remembering that Josie was a girl and I am sure this book will entertain girls as well as boys equally. Further, I found it hugely enjoyable and not too infantile and I am hardly a child anymore, so this book can appeal to adults as well.

What I felt most about this book, as I said at the outset, was ‘WOW!’. I look forward to Jon’s second novel, “The Demon Collector”.

A trailer for this book can be seen here on YouTube.

Jon Mayhew's website can be viewed here.

Liked this? Try The Spook's Sacrifice by Joseph Delaney

6 comments:

Becky said...

I really want to read this after enjoying your review so much. I will have to get a copy come release day. Sounds like an awesome UK debut! Thanks for sharing.

Jon M said...

Thanks! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it! :o)

Book Monster said...

Never heard of this one before but it looks good. Certainly want to read it!!

Lenore said...

Knife thrower?! COOL!

Yunaleska said...

It was! Thanks to Gerry for writing this review. It was a great book.

Lauren said...

This sounds so exciting. Great review too.