Wednesday 8 October 2014

Review: Wild Boy and the Black Terror by Rob Lloyd Jones

A new sensation grips London - a poisoner who strikes without a trace, leaving victims mad with terror ... and then dead. Is there a cure for the BLACK TERROR? To find out, Wild Boy and Clarissa must catch the killer. Their hunt will lead them from the city's vilest slums to its grandest palaces, and to a darkness at the heart of its very highest society.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was honoured to be a member of Booktrust Bookbuzz selection panel for this year. One of the books that the panel decided to put on the final Bookbuzz list was Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones. I have to admit that I barely managed to delight when this decision was made as Wild Boy was one of my favourite books of 2013. Our decision also seems to have been a good one if the Year 7 pupils at my school are anything to go by as it has been a popular Bookbuzz choice.

Needless to say, its sequel, Wild Boy and the Black Terror has been one of the books I was most looking forward to reading in 2014 and I am delighted to report that I was not to be disappointed at all. In fact, I might possibly have enjoyed it even more than the first book.

With the main characters of Wild Boy and Clarissa firmly established in the first book, this sequel is very much about developing them further, especially given the traumatic adventures they experienced in Wild Boy. Rob Llloyd Jones does this by throwing the unlikely pair of friends into a conspiracy that is even more vile and despicable than the one they faced in their first outing. It quickly becomes a mystery that will test their friendship to its limits, especially as all the odds seem stacked against them from the start: the majority of the Gentlemen, in whose headquarters the pair now reside, are barely tolerable of their presence, and despite their success in saving London in the previous book they are still strongly mistrusted by the city's populace. Add to this cauldron the ingredient that is Clarissa's hot-headedness and we have a recipe for disaster.

Like its predecessor, Wild Boy and the Black Terror is a fantastic, fast-paced mystery adventure story in a wonderfully realised Victorian London setting. Without the need to introduce new characters the action kicks off pretty quickly, and barely slackens off at all until the final page. There is one scene in particular, where Wild Boy and Clarissa are required to carry out a particularly daring heist, that will have readers' hearts beating faster than a Keith Moon drum solo. Wild Boy is given plenty of opportunity to use his considerable powers of observation and deduction, and the mystery will keep readers guessing all the way through as the plot is very slowly revealed, although naturally only via a number of devious twists. Fans of the macabre and gruesome will also not be disappointed, as the black terror of the book's title begins to afflict more and more people.

If you picked up Wild Boy last year then you will know that Walker published it in a wonderful hardcover edition, sans dustwrapper, and they have repeated these fantastic production values with this sequel. They are the the kind of books that could quite easily create the bibliophiles of the future. My thanks go to the fab people at Walker Books for sending me a copy to read/review (and, of course, add lovingly to my ever growing collection). Please, please tell me there are going to be more adventures for Wild Boy in the future!


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