As an avid reader of gothic fiction, I was wary of Mortlock from the cover (as a bookseller, I shouldn’t be judging a book by the cover, I know, I know, but I’m only human!). A decayed hand thrust up forth from its grave, an unnaturally sized crow looming forth under the book’s title. One can easily guess the genre from a quick glimpse however, the story itself is prime and well-told. Mayhew uses well-woven threads of mystery and intrigue to form a terrific plot and back-story. Using themes of Victorian vaudeville and Stoker-esque, gothic tones, we have before us one of the better fables to emerge in the last decade of children’s books
These days, it has become exceptionally difficult to find excellent literature for children, particularly in the 9-12 age bracket. The media and more importantly, quite a lot of bookshops have proclaimed a certain boy wizard and his blonde creator as the re-inventors of children’s books. Furthermore, a certain vampiric series of kids books has in conjunction with the boy wizard often been credited with getting kids to read again. As a result, many parents seem to feel that if a book lacks vampires or a boy with a scar on his forehead who happens to be magical, the book isn’t worth reading. I strongly contend this idea. A good storyteller is fundamentally, very different to good writing and few people nowadays seem to be able to tell the difference. Mortlock is not only excellently written, it is fitting for the 9-12 age bracket, a notoriously difficult span to conquer in the chasm of literature. Although, this too is about magic and the unnatural, it lacks all the stereotypical cliches that have come to dominate the genre and importantly, it is a challenging read for the younger generation to get their teeth into. The story is enthralling and likewise, it is fit for adults too.
I’m not going to detail the plot as I despise spoilers, but I do heartily encourage readers to go out and discover the magic that is Mortlock and hopefully, to enjoy it as much as I did.
Official website for info on Mortlock and Jon Mayhew:
All Rights Reserved © Copyright 2011 Michelle Lacey (Michelle Ní Láitheása).