Set in London in 1666, the author mixes history and historical events with a world of demons and magic. Jem, a servant boy, finds himself, finds himself involved in the ambitious schemes of his master acting under the influence of the sinister Count Cazalon. As Jem is drawn further into Cazalon’s strange world, he meets Ann, the magician’s ward and herself a witch, mute Ptolemy who can mind-speak and the monkey, Cleo. Together they must work to foil Cazalon or London will burn.
By taking a historical period as background, the author is able to create a believable backdrop to her story. There is great emphasis on the noise, dirt and smells of the city; Jem’s parentage can have a very plausible explanation, while the introduction of magic is an imaginative stretch that can be easily accommodated. This is not a historical novel, but the period will be familiar through the Curriculum, and the magician Cazalon will be recognisable from films such as The Mummy. Stock elements – a trio of young protagonists with a pet – will help reassure its intended readers who will find it easy be involved in a plot with familiar tropes. Graphic description that makes extensive use of colourful adjectives to ensure there can be no difficulty in creating a mental picture, contemporary dialogue, humour and plenty of action combine to keep the pages turning The result is a lively adventure story aimed at young readers who want a bit of substance to their reading.