Kill Fish Jones by Caro King
|Kill Fish Jones by Caro King|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Grimshaw is a curse demon, bound for centuries to carry out the death-bed curses made by his master. It's not much of a life (well, half-life), but things take a seriously downward turn when he finds himself up against a human boy called Fish. How did Lampwick manage to curse the only person in the whole wide world who can actually see demons?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
There are plenty of books around where the main character has to escape the murderous clutches of a magical or supernatural being. There are even a few which look at things from the demon's point of view. But it's rare to find a book which not only recounts the adventures of the intended victim, but also presents the demon as a complex and sympathetic personality in his own right. And which, as a bonus, allows the demon to grow as a character during the course of the story. A difficult challenge for any writer, but 'Kill Fish Jones' by Caro King manages to pull it off with panache and humour.
Limbo, the world Grimshaw inhabits, is a curious place. Demons like him are created when someone utters a curse on their deathbed, and until the curse is completed neither master nor demon can move on. Lampwick, an unsuccessful robber, made a rather vague curse three centuries before, which cannot be completed until every trace of his mortal body has turned to dust, and in the meantime he is forced to remain within a few yards of his tomb. He makes the endless years pass by yelling at Grimshaw, and generally making him even more miserable than he already is. Like all demons poor Grimshaw is only as strong as his master, with the result that most of his fellows look down on him and sneer at his paltry efforts.
Grimshaw longs, with a desperation born of boredom and shame, to do something grand and dramatic which will gain the respect and awe of the other demons. At last he sees his chance. The land Lampwick's coffin is buried in has been sold, and his coffin is exhumed, prior to being reburied in another churchyard. This reactivates the curse, and Grimshaw has a wonderful time killing off everyone concerned in the most imaginative and amusing ways he can. One small thing spoils his fun, though: the humans he kills seem to be demonstrating a curiously noble attitude to their fate, and this disturbs him because he has never considered the matter from their point of view before. It gets so bad that he even wonders if he might actually be able to allow a couple of them to survive. And then, at this crucial point, Grimshaw's task gets even more complicated: his next victim, Fish Jones, can see him.
Fish is an unusual character in his own right. With his white-blond hair and hazel eyes it would have been easy to make him into a handsome mini-superhero, but Ms King takes the bold and intriguing step of making him almost as odd as the situation he finds himself in. He rarely ever speaks, preferring to keep silent until he has something worth saying, and he can see dirt demons and auras surrounding people wherever he goes. His two friends are hardly text-book sidekicks, either: Jed, who loves bright colours, isn't very bright, and brainy Alice has a mum who often forgets to wash her clothes. It would be easy to make caricatures of these two, but that does not happen: Fish draws much solace from being able to share the secret of his strange abilities with them, and in their own ways they both support him as he tries to escape Grimshaw's murderous fury.
'Kill Fish Jones' is a wild adventure, full of odd-ball characters and an impressively original setting. It offers suspense, laughter and thrills, and as a bonus for parents, the description of what actually inhabits the dust and dirt you find in dark corners is likely to make more squeamish readers rush off to clean their rooms. What more encouragement do you need than that as a reason for buying it?
Many thanks to Quercus for sending us this excellent book.
Further reading suggestion: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is another unusual adventure with distinctly spooky overtones, and for older readers TimeRiders: Day of the Predator by Alex Scarrow is sufficiently scary to keep you up all night. Not to be read just after a heavy meal!
You can read more book reviews or buy Kill Fish Jones by Caro King at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Kill Fish Jones by Caro King at Amazon.com.
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