Saturday, October 15, 2011
WITCH HUNTER CHRONICLES: THE SCOURGE OF JERICHO By Stuart Daly. Sydney: Random House, 2011
There is, I have to admit, one disadvantage to reading a series like this one out of order, even if the second novel stands more or less alone: you know who's going to survive, because they appear in the next book. I won't say who, lest there be spoilers, but I do advise anyone who hasn't read Army Of The Undead to read this first.
This is Jakob's first adventure with the Catholic witch hunter organisation called the Hexenjager. Only one week into his time with the group, he is sent on a mission with a much more experienced group. The team is told that they have to recover a relic which is one of the trumpets that was used by Joshua's army to destroy Jericho. If it falls into the wrong hands, it will be a powerful weapon for darkness. They travel to a ruined castle where, they are told, the trumpet is likely to be hidden, possibly guarded by a coven of witches led by the Blood Countess (fictional but based on historical Elisabeth Bathory, that female Dracula).
There's only one problem: when they get there, they find there may be competition, not from demons or vampires but from a Protestant team called the Brotherhood of the Cross. One of them has never been known to miss a shot and has never been defeated...
Despite his terror, Jakob finds himself fighting for his life and those of his team mates, wondering all the time why he ever joined this organisation.
As in the sequel, there's plenty of humour. And never assume the adventure is over till near the end - it's one fight after another, all taking place over a single day, unlike Army of the Undead, which involved a long journey through Greece and the Holy Land down to the Dead Sea.
I would have liked to see the kitchen maid Sabina play a larger role; she is a strong character, but only appears in the last few pages. Hopefully, she will play a larger role in the third book. There's a character who disappears in the midst of the fighting - maybe he'll return in another book?
It's a light piece which teens should enjoy.