Guest review by K.M. LockwoodPages - 336
Published Bloomsbury in October 2011
Billy pulled his clammy coat collar tightly to his throat. It was damp with fog and felt like the tongue of a dead animal lolling against his neck. His thin body shivered and trembled. He was fifteen but looked eight. A fever sweat glistened on his forehead. His breaths were short; they puffed from his mouth in feeble wisps.
Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mister Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target ...Victor Frankenstein. Friendship, trust and betrayal combine to form a dangerous liaison in this moving and frightening new book from Chris Priestley.
From the very first sentence, you get a strong flavour of this Regency set horror. Chris Priestley uses period language in a convincing and atmospheric way to create an eerie world. You believe it is 1818 and you are following Billy through the very worst of London and beyond. It won’t be pretty.
He uses some very ingenious touches for those readers who know a lot about related books and films – but this doesn’t spoil the story by being too clever-clever. You are drawn in by the skilfully depicted relationship between Billy and Mister Creecher as it changes and develops. Your sympathy is pulled one way and then another throughout the book.
But there is even more depth than that. You can easily read and enjoy this as a frightening adventure story as you might watch a good horror film, but there are also big ideas in the book. It is a book to re-read and think about.
There are two things I would change. First of all, I have seen Chris Priestley’s own artwork and I think it would look brilliant on the cover. Secondly, I would confine the reading guide to the website because it could spoil the effect of the novel if you read it first.
That aside, I think this is superb.
I would thoroughly recommend this for older readers who can stomach a bit of gore and violence; who can enjoy occasionally complex language and who want to think about what makes us who we are.