Wednesday, October 13, 2010
DEMON STORM: The School of Night. By Justin Richards. London: Faber and Faber, 2010
Ben Foundlling lives with his sister Sam in a home - the modern equivalent of an orphanage, if not quite as awful. They have been moved from carer to carer because nobody can cope with the fact that Sam sees dead people - all the time. When Sam disappears shortly after looking into a strange box as part of a test by the mysterious Mr Knight, and everyone, even the police, just assumes it’s a matter of teenage running away, Ben is determined to find her - or at least what happened to her. This leads him, eventually, to the strange School of Night, where other kids who can see ghosts and evil spirits are trained to fight them. Sam isn’t there - and Mr Knight didn’t kidnap her. He’s one of the good guys. But if Ben is going to find out what is going on, he has to pretend to be one of the children with the Sight. And meanwhile, he’s wondering whether he really has seen his sister whenever he needed her, or if it’s all in his head...
Justin Richards is always good value. He has written many thoroughly entertaining fantasy adventures for young people, usually with tongue in cheek elements behind all the seemingly serious ones. Even with the villains planning to take over the world via human sacrifice to demons, he just can’t resist the puns. I mean - Dirk Knight? School of (K)night? I chuckled all the way through.
This is very readable adventure fantasy fiction, which shouldn’t be too hard even for teens whose reading levels aren’t high. It’s the first of a new series and young readers will be demanding when the next one is due out.
Recommended for children from twelve upwards.