Tuesday 21 May 2013

Aldo Moon and the Ghost at Gravewood Hall by Alex Woolf

‘It was a dark and stormy night I began. The skies were racked with thunder that rolled in waves across the valley. Lightning forked through the dismal clouds and lit up the trees in brief, angry flashes.’
Actually, it was a beautiful evening. The only celestial illumination was provided by the moon, which shone through wisps of London fog, falling silkily on our rug. But that didn’t seem right for my story, which was to be in the gothic tradition and so required a more violent kind of weather.
Published by Scribo February 2013
240 pages
Summary from Hive.co.uk
Introducing Aldo Moon: abandoned at birth, raised at the Foundlings Hospital in London, then adopted by the well-to-do Carter family at the age of seven. The young psychic detective is always on the outside. Flamboyant, eccentric and a touch wild, Aldo has the ability to pick up 'ripples in the ether', which he uses to investigate intrigue and mystery in Victorian England. He is accompanied on his many adventures by the intrepid Nathan Carter, the story's narrator, and the prim arch-sceptic Lily Morelle. In this, their first case, the trio investigate the mysterious nightly noises at a rotting country house in the dead of winter. With the help of his companions, Aldo gradually uncovers a gripping, sinister secret at Gravewood Hall.
Reviewed by K. M. Lockwood
The story is told by Nathan Carter about the crime –solving exploits of his adopted brother, Aldo Moon – in the manner of Dr Watson writing about Sherlock Holmes. The narrator directly addresses the reader and uses deliberately old-fashioned vocabulary to match the Victorian era in which it is set. 
Along with uncovering the central mystery, the reader will learn about 19th century servants, divorce law and inheritance. The author clearly knows a great deal about the Victorian era and he contrasts scientific attitudes with more spiritual ideas through the different characters and events. The conflict between rationalist and psychic points of view is as relevant now as it was in the 19th century – and in this story, there is both deductive reasoning and apparently supernatural activity.
Alex Woolf has made an interesting mash-up of a traditional crime thriller and something more eerie. The result will suit the reader who seeks something like Wilkie Collins or Dickens. It is full of gruesome revelations set in a richly detailed, claustrophobic world. 
I should warn buyers that the title and the publisher’s summary suggest a relatively young readership. The cover, by David Proctor, which is very attractive with its unusual scrawly typeface and striking Gothic artwork, also looks suitable for the 9+ market .But some of the themes and scenes are definitely YA and could upset a more sensitive reader.
You will enjoy this if you are a confident reader fond of complex historical mysteries with a touch of the macabre.

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