With help from seven loyal but decidedly iffy companions, 11-year-old Nelson sets out to rescue his kidnapped older sister.
Said companions are no less than embodiments of the seven deadly sins, extracted from Nelson’s soul by an old device discovered in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Jennings casts them as invisible (except to Nelson) monsters with names like Nosh (gluttony), Miser (greed), and, um, Stan (wrath). The news that Nelson’s beloved half sister, Celeste, is presumed dead after disappearing in an explosion leaves him overwhelmed with grief. But the sins stoutly insist that she’s still alive, and so off he goes—passing, with their boisterous assistance, through Heathrow’s security and onto a jet bound for Brazil. The hilariously hectic journey ends in a climactic battle with fish monsters evolved in a poisoned wellspring of the primordial water of life, where Celeste is being held. Rather than pull all of these allegorical elements together, though, the author just dumps them in an untidy heap, portraying the sins (except in one brief scene) as comical sidekicks who are there to provide essential help. He chucks in frequent silly line drawings that depict the sins as Monsters, Inc.–style creatures and Nelson as white. References to toxic farts, poo, slime, dead rats, and like disgustibles are par for the course.
Muddled but fun, with a notably subversive premise. (Fantasy. 11-13)