348 pages, Paperback
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from Egmont
Theo Wickland lives a life of isolation - he has only ever known three people: his butler, the maid and his guardian. He has always been told this is for his own good because he is dangerous to other people. Indeed, he wears gloves at all times and has daily, intensely painful treatment in the 'Mercy Tube'. But one birthday, during his annual trip to the graveyard, Theo finds a small package addressed to him. A secret message inside it, and a visit from two burglars that proves fatal to one of them, are the catalysts for Theo to discover his deadly powers and strange inheritance. He is the descendent of the Candle Man, a Victorian crime fighter with a dark side. One touch from him and criminals melt to death. Two societies are hunting for him: one that will protect and help him and one that wants to harness his power for evil. Can Theo escape his guardian's clutches, and stop his destructive plan? And will he learn how to deal with the sometimes terrifying and confusing real world?
Just in case you thought it (I did), it is not the story of man made from wax. As the summary says, Theo's power is the ability to melt things. I sympathised with Theo from the beginning of the story. His life isn't really a life. Yes he sees three people, but they aren't friends to him. And the treatment on him, which is explained as being necessary, is cruel. Theo was in fact a lab rat. He may sleep in a bed and not a cage, but that doesn't deny the fact that he was used for malignant purposes.
That kind of treatment could drive a person mad. But it doesn't. Theo has the intelligence to think of lots of questions with the arrival of the package. It changes his life for the better. He's able to go outside. He can feel fresh air on his fair. However, he can't stand still because lots of people are after him. The characters in the two societies are memorable, each suiting the true nature of the society they belong to. It was a little scary the lengths they went in their search for Theo. Some of their actions definitely crossed moral and/or ethical boundaries. But then I guess criminals don't care for following the law.
There are lots of cushion moments in this book. I was anxious for Theo right up until the end. Even when it looks as though he's getting a breather, as a reader I'm positive that more action is around the corner (there was). Trying to understand why people are after him, and working what he should do next is hard enough on it's own, but add to the fact that Theo doesn't know how the world outside his former prison works, Theo does a pretty good job. Sure, he makes mistakes. But, from where I sit, he is at least living his life, as opposed to being a lab rat. (I find the cover a bit freaky).
Theo's power is pretty terrifying. The ramifications of not being able to touch people mean that he might have a lonely life ahead of him. Except I don't think that'll happen, not with the close friendships he forms. These friendships have unexpected twists to them: providing more people who care about Theo. Theo in turn learns to care about them. All the feelings he has, all the uncertainty, that is going to continue in the next book, Candle Man: The Society of Dread. I read the title wrong the first time, thought it said Dead, and thought 'Yes, people would die if Theo touches them'.
Be sure to check out Glen Dakin's website, which has a cool photo gallery of the cemetery used in the book.