Constable & Toop
Publisher: Hot Key Books
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.