Ned has spent his entire life moving around the country with his dad. His mother died when he was a year old, so he has no memories of her. What Ned really wants was to settle down in one place and have a normal life. Then on his 13th birthday everything changed. It might have been the sinister clowns that seemed to be trying to kill him, or the fact that his father disappeared whilst trying to save him, but on his father’s instructions he makes his way to the Circus of Marvels and he is thrown into a world he had never imagined. It seems that his quiet retiring father had been “The Engineer”, someone who helped members of the circus keep Demons and other evils on the other side of ‘the Veil’. Ned is drawn into an adventure to save his father, save the world and find the missing ‘Medic’, who is vital to their venture.
This is a truly imaginative and frightening world, or rather it is a place where two worlds meet and the fight for dominance is vital to everyone. At the beginning Ned is just a quiet boy who is average at school, rarely makes friends as he moves around so much and has a very strong relationship with his father. He grows throughout the book as he faces many challenges and learns to cope with them. He also learns who he can trust and the power of real friendship. Justin Fisher has created a world that is enough like ours to be believable, but odd enough to be dangerous. The range of characters is fascinating, ranging from George, the educated and very charming Gorilla to Kitty the elderly and totally zany (but loveable) soothsayer; whilst on the side of evil are Sar-adin and his master Barbarossa. This is a truly exciting and magical start to a new series and I am sure it will become a firm favourite.