The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt
|The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Wonderfully original Gothic story involving an ancient curse, an evil priest and two orphans with nothing to lose. A wonderfully shivery tale that refuses to be shut up into a genre box. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: November 2012|
|Publisher: David Fickling|
|External links: Author's website|
Klaus is a street kid who has been taken in by Kusselman, the tooth-puller. Kusselman is a hard taskmaster, fond of using a belt to discipline and control his young apprentice, and he isn't fussy where he finds teeth to sell to the rich of the town. So there's nothing unusual in a trip to Frau Drecht's miserable boarding house, home to those with no money and no other place to go. When her residents die off, as they tend to do with depressing regularity, Frau Drecht sells their teeth to Kusselman and their poor, wasted bodies to the School of Anatomy for dissection. Frau Drecht has also taken a street child for a servant. But to keep Liesel in line, Frau Drecht uses a hot iron, not a belt.
On this day, the dead body isn't just any dead body. Herr Siger's teeth are made of plaster of paris. Inside one of them a diamond is hidden. And that diamond is wanted by many people: by the greedy Kusselman, by the even greedier Frau Drecht, by the professor-with-a-dark-past at the School of Anatomy, and by the strange priest from South America, who has arrived with his even stranger servant and monkey familiar.
And it's not Klaus's fault that he finds himself in possession of the diamond. And it's not Liesel's fault that Klaus reminds her of her dead brother. And it's neither of their faults that their pursuers are intent on awakening an ancient curse...
... ooh, but this is a dark and spooky story, told with high drama and real Gothic creepiness. It deals with the debate between religion and science, of the abuse of power, of murder and fear and terror. As Klaus and Liesel flee through the dark alleyways of the town, there's a real sense of dread and inevitability. Whatever they do, whereever they run, there's no escaping the train of events that has been set in motion. Nobody can be trusted. Everyone is out for themselves.
The plot is full of twists and turns and I really had no idea where it was going to end up. I felt quite breathless - and completely creeped out - by the time it was over. I loved the originality of it all, the classical feel, and the uncompromising commitment to the main theme - where does life go when it leaves the body?
The Feathered Man will be perfect for keen readers with a thirst for horror. And it comes recommended by Bookbag.
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant has an equally Gothic feel but blends past and present. Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley is a selection of fantastically uneasy and Gothic short stoires.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt at Amazon.com.
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