CRYPT: Traitor's Revenge by Andrew Hammond

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CRYPT: Traitor's Revenge by Andrew Hammond

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Gruesome events abound in London and York, stretching the Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team to their limits in this second sortie for Jud and his friends.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Headline
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 9780755378227

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There are teenage spies, ghosts and gore aplenty in store for readers of this series: the books are a non-stop, fast-paced battle against all manner of supernatural nasties, where the adrenalin remains high and the body count just keeps on mounting.

In some ways ghosts with evil intentions have the upper hand: they can fade away through walls, occasionally taking their victims with them, and they have often had centuries on end to plot and plan their return to this world. Most of the ghosts we meet in these stories have no qualms whatsoever about slaying or maiming humans to achieve their goal or make a statement, and some simply enjoy it. In fact, ghosts need fear: the energy it generates allows them to take human form again and even become solid, so it is very much to their advantage to shock and terrify people. But fortunately for us certain young people have been identified who are particularly gifted in extra-sensory perception. A covert government department has gathered them together in London, and they have been provided with all the gadgets and training money can provide. It is their task to identify and eradicate any dangers from beyond the grave.

The series is set in contemporary Britain, and therefore is a world which will be readily recognised by its young readers. The agents use mobiles and computers, race about on powerful motor bikes and share all the same leisure interests as their peers. This is one of the books' greatest strengths: the utter normality of a teenager's life is suddenly thrown up against the timeless horror of bloodthirsty, ruthless creatures straight from our worst nightmares. In many traditional stories ghosts are kept at a safe distance, in ancient monasteries and gloomy mansions, and the contrast here between the day-to-day life of a modern young person and beings from another place and era raises the scare-factor ten-fold.

This particular book, the second in the series, has CRYPT agents split between London and York. The word 'martyrs' features in attacks on random passers-by in both places, and Jud and his fellow agents have their work cut out trying to find links between the two cities. They also have to decide whether the sudden gore-fest has anything to do with the imminent State Opening of Parliament, and to complicate matters even more, one of the agents develops a new power, which threatens to be fatal.

There is less emphasis on character development and relationships in this book than in the first one, although the awkwardness between Jud and his father is made very clear here. But for readers who like high-octane action, constant perils and thrills, and a plethora of gadgets, this book will be sheer pleasure from the menace of its opening page to the explosive finale.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but readers will gain a fuller understanding of the CRYPT team if they start with CRYPT: The Gallows Curse. And if you prefer to have your supernatural terrors firmly located in haunted mansions, try The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish.

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