It has been a long wait for this second book in the Books of Pandemonium sequence. Nor does it disappoint. In the first novel, Black Arts, shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2013, we were introduced to Jack. The place, Tudor London – a London where superstition and the belief in devils is very real. And London has many devils hidden in the layers of its history. When Jack awakens one of these he finds himself catapulted into a battle for the soul of the city. He does not emerge unscarred. It was a sprawling action-packed read with a gripping climax.
Now we are back. Jack and Beth have a problem. They have been robbed. The solution – to use the legacy of their previous adventure which gave Jack the ability to detect devils. They must steal a devil; more specifically a devil who inspires revelry. It seems such an obvious, if daring, plan. But plans involving devils are unlikely to be simple. Jack, Beth and Kit find themselves transported to a future London. It is 1792, the Age of Reason. London has been rebuilt after the Great Fire. Devils no longer feature – or do they? What about those poor souls in Bedlam? And who is Lord Ravenscar and the Hell Fire Club? Will Jack be able to rescue Beth and return home?
Densely packed, the action never stop, demanding you keep your wits about you. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have read the first book, it would certainly help. The historical settings in both are very real, and though the period details are worn lightly, there is no doubt that the reader is in the past, a vivid, noisy, smelly past full of life. The fantasy elements are powerful drawing on known traditions and legends. In Jack and his friends- not forgetting the Imp, readers journey with characters they will want to meet again. And the neat enigmatic ending hints that there may still be adventures to come.