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THE FACELESS FIEND by Howard Whitehouse


Being the Tale of a Criminal Mastermind, His Masked Minions and Princess with a Butter Knife, Involving Explosives and a Certain Amount of Pushing and Shoving

by Howard Whitehouse & illustrated by Bill Slavin

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-55453-130-1
Publisher: Kids Can

Along with offering a leading candidate for Year’s Best Title, this rousing sequel to The Strictest School in the World (2006) pits the wonderfully motley household of Mad Aunt Lucy Butterworth against not only the villainous girls’-school Headmistress from last time, but a new crew of thugs led by a sinister secret agent whose face has been blown off. Centered on exiled young Princess Purnah of Chiligrit, a small country strategically located on the borders of India, Tibet, Russia and Norway, the action consists almost entirely of sudden attacks, chases, kidnappings, escapes and rescues, with breaks for tea and cakes, as the characters move from the Yorkshire countryside to Victorian London. Given to stunningly bloodthirsty remarks (“In Chiligrit, stranglings is everyday-goings-on. Also other murderings, and kidnappings and daily thievings of sheep and goats. I miss it very much.”), Purnah is just one of several memorable characters here, all coming to life both in the narrative and in Slavin’s usually hilarious drawings. With help from Sherlock (“I thought you were imaginary!”) Holmes himself and a variety of early aeronautical devices, the baddies ultimately get it in the neck—literally in one case, though not decisively enough to rule out more installments. Bring them on. (Fiction. 11-13)