The first in a new series that blends late Elizabethan England with magic and demons. Jack and his mother survive in the stews of the South Bank and he has been trained in lock picking and as a cutpurse in order to make a living. However his life changes when he cuts the purse belonging to a preacher and a mysterious dust colours his hand red and causes his eye to be inflamed and then to start seeing all kinds of mysterious things.
You can almost smell the slums of Elizabethan London and how that kind of existence would dictate the way that you lived your life. It was also a time of great wealth for the privileged few and this is also brought into focus. This is the time of William Shakespeare and the descriptions of the theatre remind us of the places where two parts of society met. This was also a time where people believed in magic and Elizabeth I had Dr Dee as her advisor. He makes an appearance in this book and has a small but pivotal role to play.
The book is an exciting , action-filled story with strong central characters in Jack and Beth. It has a well thought out plot which carries the reader into the heart of the action. There are layers of meaning in the story and a real sense of family and belonging, although we also see betrayal and the undermining of society by fear and greed. A good read for both boys and girls.