The Great and Dangerous is the second episode in Chris Westwood’s much praised ‘Ministry of Pandemonium’ series, and fans will not be disappointed. This is another involving and intelligent piece of modern gothic, well written, thought-provoking and genuinely chilling.
It is the Ministry of Pandemonium’s responsibility to guide the souls of the departed to the afterlife, protecting them from their enemies the Lords of Sundown. A massive battle at the end of book one has left both sides weaker, and the Lords of Sundown smarting for revenge. When thirteen souls are stolen from a bombed building, the Ministry, including its junior members Ben and Becky, prepare themselves for another assault. Ben soon realises that the enemy is targeting him and Becky in particular.
You’d find the Ministry tucked away in a small side passage in Camden (if you knew how to look) and the city of London is a noisy, vivid presence throughout the book. Just as vividly realised though is the shadowy otherworld, where London’s dark corners, its secret tunnels, seethe with half-glimpsed creatures and menace.
Death is a constant too, of course. Ben helps those who have lost their lives suddenly or violently and often through the most random series of events. The sense of the frailty of life is palpable, how narrow the line separating us all from the departed.
But there are enough rousing battles and car chases, not to mention flashes of humour to distract us from the memento mori! The book is a true thriller, with spies and double agents to unmask. Interestingly, Ben gets this dramatically wrong, despite his special insight – his enemy knows him all too well it seems. It all builds to a thrilling climax with a truly shocking final twist. Book three can’t come soon enough!