The Liberators by Philip Womack

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The Liberators by Philip Womack

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Great fantasy thriller that taps into contemporary issues such as the credit crunch and weaves them into an age-old story of good versus evil. Elegant prose, a wonderfully ordinary-but-courageous central character and some horribly attractive villains make this a great choice for all keen readers of late primary and early secondary age.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0747595526

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Ivo's parents have gone off on a South American expedition. As it's the school holidays, Ivo is off to London to stay with some glamorous relatives. Aunt Lydia is a socialite and art expert who arranges exhibitions and parties for the great and the good. Uncle Jago is in finance and there isn't much about wheeling and dealing that he doesn't know. They're fond of Ivo and the kind of guardians who are likely to practise some benign neglect, so what Ivo is really looking forward to about his stay is freedom - he intends to explore London and enjoy everything it has to offer.

But he doesn't get the chance. As he's waiting on an underground platform en route, a stranger pushes a mysterious object into his hand and runs onto the next carriage of the train. Then something strange happens. A mass hysteria overtakes everyone on board and reality seems to blur just a little bit. When they disembark, it's to an horrific discovery: the stranger is lying dead and dismembered. The police fear a terrorist attack - after all, the financial crisis is in full swing and the very fabric of society appears to be crumbling - but Ivo knows better...

I really enjoyed this very contemporary supernatural thriller. It blends current events - the financial crisis, the terror threat - and blends them into a pacy adventure that owes as much to ancient evil as it does to present-day crisis. Ivo is a tremendous central character - he's nervy and full of self-doubt, but deep down he is a solid and courageous child with a clear set of ethics that pull him through the most difficult situations. The baddies - Liberators - are deliciously attractive and offer almost biblical temptation - the world they offer is hedonistic and glamorous, but of course it's all a veneer. Without morality, how long can this world of total individualism last? Not long, of course. But Ivo has the strength and the character to see through it and hold firm to the good.

The writing is crisp and clear and elegant, opening the book to keen readers at middle primary age but not feeling too simplistic for middle teens either, and the contemporary background gives it real thematic depth. There's great pace and tension and the opening chapter - the only one told from outside Ivo's perspective - is a complete triumph of scene-setting.

This one comes heartily recommended.

My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

If they like the look of The Liberators, I think they might also enjoy The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, which taps very heavily into classical mythology and features some charismatic twins, or Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge, which loves language and has three very disparate but very interesting central characters.

Buy The Liberators by Philip Womack at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Liberators by Philip Womack at

Buy The Liberators by Philip Womack at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Liberators by Philip Womack at


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