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by G.P. Taylor

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-24258-9
Publisher: Putnam

Changing the cast, but taking up his larger tale where Wormwood (2004) left off, Taylor pits a teenaged would-be highwayman and several ragged confederates against a cruel, cursed lord and a ruthless preacher poised to release a swarm of flesh-eating insects. After the mastema, an anything-but-Subtle knife with both bloody proclivities and the ability to unlock paradise, falls into his grimy hands, Jonah becomes the target of its all-powerful former owner, Lord Malpas. Meanwhile, a blind lad named Tersias has appeared on London’s nearly depopulated streets, telling true futures whispered into his ear by the Wretchkin, an invisible half-angel, and the preacher Solomon is gaining flocks of new adherents thanks to the previous episode’s terrifying comet. Moving away from the bombastic prose and awkwardly concealed Christian symbolism that weighed down his earlier outings, the author crafts a richly atmospheric story, played out by a set of tried and true Dickensian character types and laced both with supernatural elements and higher themes. Despite the double miracle he shoehorns in for a sudden, forced happy ending, this is his best yet. Will the next volume feature something like . . . a Spyglass? Stay tuned. (Fantasy. 12-15)