Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Review: The Bonehill Curse by Jon Mayhew
Necessity Bonehill is arrogant, a bully and trapped in Rookery Heights Academy for Young Ladies. Bored and aimless, she spends her time training with the retired, and slightly insane, Sergeant Major Morris or fighting with the local peasant boys. So when her Uncle Carlos sends her a seemingly empty bottle with the instructions, “Never open it,” she can’t resist the temptation and pulls the cork.
But Necessity unleashes an evil genie, a demon of pestilence and a creature that bears her parents a terrible grudge. With only seven days to rescue them, Ness has to find out how to kill the genie. She begins a desperate quest that takes her through the dark streets of London and to the Oasis of the Amarant in uncharted Africa. If she fails, her parents die and the world will fall prey to the genie’s hideous plague.
The Bonehill Curse is Jon Mayhew's third, and apparently final story set in the dark Victorian world that he introduced to us in Mortlock, and it is yet another fantastic dark fantasy story that has huge appeal for boys and girls alike. It has all the stand out elements that we have come to expect from Jon Mayhew: great characters; brilliant, atmospheric descriptions of a Victorian London where magic lurks in the background; and superb plotting. As with those earlier two books Jon has used his considerable writing talent to put all of these elements together to create this old-school adventure story that has an undercurrent of horror running through it, as well as a soupçon of classic Arabian Nights magic.
I can never make up my mind what I like the most about Jon Mayhew's now three books. Much as I love his dark storytelling, I always end up deliberating between whether it his characters or his descriptive writing that stand out the most for me. I guess if I was strapped to a chair and had hot pins shoved under my toenails until I gave an answer I would probably go for his characters, and those is The Bonehill Curse are as good as any he has previously written. Necessity Bonehill is a delight to read - she starts off as an arrogant bully, but as we progress through the adventures that follow her unleashing of the evil djinn we see her have to change in order to survive. However, it is one thing to create a great main character, but Jon Mayhew also manages to breathe colour and life into every member of his supporting cast. Even the djinn, a character whose developemt could quite easily have been overlooked by a lesser writer, is perfectly created and becomes much more than just an ancient evil entity.
As with both of his previous books The Bonehill Curse moves along at a cracking pace, and even at 350ish pages long could very easily become a read-in-a-single-sitting book if time permits. For the third time Mayhew sucked me into his dark Victorian world and I really did not want to leave it. There is also a delightful twist that I have to admit took me completely by surprise, and made the story even better for that.
If you have not yet read Mortlock or The Demon Collector then this is not a problem as all three can be read as standalone stories. However, Jon very cleverly references the books that came before and it is fun spotting these small crossover tidbits so I strongly recommend you read them in order. Jon has said that this is the last one in the 'trilogy' as he moves on to other unrelated stories, but I for one would love to read more stories set in the world of Mortlock.
The Bonehill Curse was published by Bloomsbury on 10th May and mt thanks go to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to review.