Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Evans, Hot Key Books, 2012.
“A Victorian funeral parlour might seem like an unlikely setting for a children’s book, but in fact it makes the perfect background for this spooky supernatural tale from Blue Peter Award winning author Gareth P Jones.
Undertaker’s son Sam Toop is struggling to deal with his unusual ability to see ghosts. As a ‘Talker’ he is one of the few living people who can see and talk to spirits – and as a consequence, he finds them continually asking for his help to resolve their unfinished business. But something strange is happening in London, and soon Sam finds himself dealing with not only the ghosts’ usual problems, but a whole host of other strange happenings – the terrible Black Rot, which is infecting haunted buildings across the city, a demon hound roaming the streets, and a sinsiter preacher performing horrible exorcisms. Closer to home, he also has to deal with the return of his no-good uncle Jack, and the revelation of all sorts of long-hidden family secrets.
Meanwhile, long-dead clerk Lapsewood is spending eternity trapped in the bureaucracy of the Ghost Bureau, working his way through an endless pile of paperwork. But when he discovers that haunted houses across London are mysteriously losing their ghosts, he makes up his mind to investigate – even if he has to defy the Bureau to do so.
With an appealingly gothic setting, this pacy and exciting mystery perfectly blends comedy with the dark, spooky and supernatural. There are plenty of funny and gruesome moments that will appeal to young readers; but this is also a well-researched, thoughtful and compassionate novel, that takes inspiration from the Victorian preoccupation with mourning and death. Jones skilfully manages a complex series of interlocking storylines and an engaging cast of characters in this witty, action-packed and hugely entertaining ghost story.”
I love this moody book trailer featuring the author:
What do I think about this book?:
One of the best books I read in 2012. I discovered Gareth P. Jones after a group of reluctant readers got hooked on one of his earlier titles – “the Considine curse”. On investigation I discovered that Mr Jones had a few other books under his belt including a cool series for younger kids “Ninja Meerkats” which I immediately ordered and have had 6/7/8 year old boys clamouring for ever since! But back to Constable & Toop…I absolutely loved this book and literally could not put it down until I had consumed it completely. This title was published in October 2012 by Hot Key Books (a very new and exciting publisher from the UK…every time I read about their forthcoming titles I want to buy them ALL and read them, even the titles that are written for teenagers)…. Anyway this is a ghost story, but not a silly one, instead, a rather dark and chilly one, set in Victorian London and the thoroughly researched setting perfectly matches the tone of the book. It is really well written and doesn’t feel like a typical children’s book. This should appeal to Year 5/6+ readers (and adults of any age!). Teachers – this would make a great read aloud!
As Hot Key Books aren’t yet available in NZ (they will be in 2013 I believe) I bought this copy from the Book Depository. It is already in the category of “most wanted” in our library with a long line of waiting readers on the reservation list. It is well worth waiting for!
One of my favourite blogging friends – Zac Harding of “My best friends are books” was lucky enough to interview Gareth P. Jones on his blog here 🙂 check it out if you are interested in reading about where Gareth got his inspiration from and what his plans for future books might be.