Sunday 15 August 2010

Candle Man

Candle Man by Glenn Dakin (Hardie Grant Egmont)
PB RRP 16.95
ISBN 9781405246767
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Theo has had contact with only twelve people in his entire life. His guardian, Dr Saint, the founder of the Society of Good Works, their butler, Mr Nicely, and the deaf housekeeper, Clarice, are the only people he sees. Empire Hall has been his home since he was discovered on the doorstep of one of the Society’s many orphanages, with a note pinned to him stating he was orphaned of both parents.

His entire life and learning are subject to the discretion of Theo’s complex and secretive guardian. He is subjected daily to radiation treatment in the Mercy Tube, ‘a transparent casing with a powerful ray emitter at the top’ for treatment of a rare illness. His diet is warm water, millet and greens. Outdoor excursions are at night to the cemetery near the mansion where Theo is told houses the only worthwhile people he needs to know about.

It is at the cemetery on a gravestone, that Theo finds the snow globe in a box with a miniature Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament trapped inside. But instead of white snow, black flakes stir and settle. With more time on his hands than he can utilise, the boy pieces together the shredded paper that cushions the globe. It requests that he go to the cemetery alone. When Theo sets out for the cemetery he is picked up by a shadowy feathered creature that drops him in a graveyard of the Society of Unrelenting Vigilance. Here he learns many things that have been kept from him for years and he resolves never to return to Empire Hall without learning all there is to know about the world outside his prison. This is the beginning of extraordinary happenings and disclosures that will reveal his real identity, the origin of his condition, and the reasons for his rare ability.

Meanwhile, panic sets in at the mansion. Dr Saint’s true colours are revealed, and Mr Nicely shows his darker side. Dr Saint releases a revolt of a ghoulish and sinister nature on Theo and his accomplices when he resurrects the supposedly extinct creatures that have been lying dormant for years in the underground sewers of London. War is declared between good and evil, and Theo is the one who can save or destroy what awaits him.

The ghouls and other-worldly creatures signify evil incarnate, as do the humans that command them to their will. Fighting against them are the believers of truth and freedom. This book is about the fight and the devious lengths each side will go to, to become the victors. Detailed, descriptive and imaginative, its unique characters draw the reader in further and further into the well-developed storyline. The book ends abruptly, indicating another book pending.

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