Luke Manchett is aged 16. He lives with his mother. His father left home ten years earlier and in the meantime there has been very little face to face contact. Luke however sees his father regularly on TV, where his father hosts a popular supernatural TV show.
Out of the blue Luke receives a letter. His father has died and he must go and meet the lawyer, Mr Barclay. At this meeting Luke is told he will inherit six millions dollars. But there is a condition. He must sign a contract agreeing to take control of the eight spirits who were his father’s charge.
The rest of Hunt’s book narrates how Luke copes with these restless spirits, how he manages them when they turn malevolent, how he can aspire to disconnect himself from them, and what damage will be done in the process.
The book has two strengths. Its characters are convincing, commanding the reader’s concern for their welfare. Even Luke’s dog, who narrates one episode of the book, speaks in skilfully credible tones. Second, Hunt manoeuvres the psychology of his readers with great skill, playing elegant tricks on the reader’s susceptibilities. At a critical point in a violent conflict between Luke and the malignant spirits, his mother acts in a way that takes the reader’s breath away.
I have three points of criticism for this well-crafted book. The narrative picture that the author needs to establish before the book gathers pace is complex, like a tricky jigsaw puzzle. It thus requires determination on the part of the reader to press on with the book. Some readers will probably give up before the real action starts. Second, for this reader the book indulged in excessive and gratuitous violence, though maybe the readers for whom this book is intended may not be as squeamish as this reviewer.
Finally, as a wheelchair user myself, I was dismayed by one character’s suggestion that finding oneself in a wheelchair was a destiny that made death look attractive. Young readers cannot benefit from having such dire suggestions floated in their direction.