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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Splendidly Gruesome But A Bit Cartoon-Like

Ministry of Pandemonium - Chris Westwood

Ben Harvester is sketching in Highgate Cemetery when he sees an old man apparently in difficulty. Good-natured Ben naturally goes to help. But the feeble old man is much more than he seems. Before he knows what's happening Ben finds himself recruited into the Ministry of Pandemonium, an organisation that exists to help the dead pass on to their next stage and to keep them out of the clutches of demons on the hunt for lost souls.

The style is accessible, there's plenty of humour and there are some ingenious ideas in this story. Nevertheless, I didn't find it entirely satisfying. Westwood relies too much on street names for his description of place, there's a tendency towards cartoon and a lack of depth to the writing.

It's a good read and I think a lot of young readers would enjoy it. There are some splendidly gruesome moments, including a chase in a morgue. But it could have been more atmospheric and powerful. At no point did it capture my imagination entirely in he way that really good fiction invariably does.