Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers

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Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: An amazing debut that tackles quite heavy subject matter with care, heart and humour.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 336 Date: February 2020
Publisher: Chicken House
ISBN: 978-1912626038

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Demelza Clock is a scientist, often staying up late to work on her various gadgets, much to her Grandma Maeve's irritation. However, she has also inherited a certain set of skills that are not especially scientific: Spectre Detecting, the ability to summon the ghosts of the recently deceased. Under the guidance of her Grandma Maeve, Demelza begins to master her newfound skills. However, there is a mysterious individual on the prowl, kidnapping young Spectre Detectors. It's up to Demelza and her best friend Percy to get to the bottom of this...

This is the debut novel of Holly Rivers (former star of the TV show The Worst Witch), and I have to say I’m impressed with her work. The book manages to combine science with the supernatural in the form of Demelza’s inventions, which is certainly an interesting mixture. The humour sprinkled throughout the book also makes it an entertaining read, alleviating some of the more tense moments in the story. This is supposedly the first in a series of mystery novels, and I admit that after reading this, I am interested in seeing how the series develops.

Our protagonist is eleven-year-old Demelza Clock, a quirky young inventor with a rather sarcastic sense of humour, who often stays up late working on her latest inventions. She is also a Spectre Detector, an individual with the ability to conjure apparitions of the recently deceased. She lives with her Grandma Maeve, an outwardly tough yet loving old woman who also moonlights (literally) as a Spectre Detector. Demelza attends Stricton Academy, where she is bullied by everyone from the draconian headmistress Ms Cardinal to the preppy hall monitors Persephone and Penelope Smythe. Her closest friend is Percival “Percy” Grey, a shy young boy with a love of adventure stories who home-schooled by his overbearing father due to his “weak constitution”.

A major theme in the book is that of death, and it is tackled with a lot of care and heart. A Spectre Detector’s primary job is to conjure up a spirit for grieving relatives so that they can properly say goodbye to them. Demelza’s own parents died seven years before the start of the story, and at times she does find herself missing them, which adds quite a bit of depth to her character. Even the villain of the story is driven purely by grief and only does what they do because they couldn’t bear losing a loved one. Overall, it is very mature for a piece of children’s fiction and adds a lot of weight to the story.

In conclusion, this is an excellent debut, tackling some heavy subject matter with heart, humour and care. I look forward to future instalments of this series.

Similar books by other authors: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – a much more serious examination of loss and coming to terms with death.


Buy Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers at Amazon.com.


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