Published: January 4th 2011, Bloomsbury
Pages: 375 pages, paperback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize and nominated for the 2011 Branford Boase Award Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror meets Indiana Jones. Mortlock is macabre, darkly humorous, masterfully written and ... brilliant. A superlative adventure peppered with deadly thrills and traditional death rhymes
Summary (from the book itself): Josie is a knife thrower in a magician’s stage act. Alfie is an undertaker’s assistant. They are both orphans and they have never met, but they are about to be given a clue to the secret of their shared past. A past which has come to seek them out.
And while they flee for their lives, they must unravel the burning mysteries surrounding the legacy that threatens to consume them.
My review: Well, this book certainly starts with a bang! Mortlock will have you gripped from the outset and won’t let go until you’ve finishing scouring the final page. It’s a fast paced, high energy romp that is sure to delight both girls and boys who like real characters and great story telling.
The Goodreads summary that states the book is ‘Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror meets Indiana Jones’ is absolutely spot on – for once I agree with the comparison and it isn’t disappointing. This is definitely one of the most exciting books I’ve read this year and Mayhew is an absolute master at using sentence structure to increase the pace of the story – fantastic.
There is a lot of mystery involved in Mortlock and I loved finding clues and answers at the same time as the characters – I well and truly felt as though I was on the journey with them and it was great to see both Josie and Alfie grow as characters as the story progressed.
Mortlock is fantastically creepy and I loved it for that – it didn’t try to gloss over any of the unpleasant moments and I think a lot of readers (especially boys!) will really love this book. The cover is a brilliant representation of the story inside, particularly the Carrie-esque hand reaching up from the ground. I love the black edging of the pages as well – I’m a sucker for little details like that.
I will be honest and say I wasn’t 100% sure I would enjoy Mortlock before I started reading it but after the first scene (which is brilliant) I couldn’t put it down. It’s completely outside of my comfort zone (cheerleaders and pretty boys, please) but I’m now a huge fan of Jon Mayhew’s and am eagerly awaiting his future releases!
First line: ‘Sebastian Mortlock felt a wriggling invasion between his toes.’
Total: 15/20 (B)