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Shadow Beast

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Cover of Shadow Beast

Author: Justin Richards

Series: The Invisible Detective

Publisher: Pocket

Published in: 2003

Age Range: Pre Teens

Period: Various

Setting: London

Genres:  AdventureSciFi


Characters:

  • Arthur Drake is a late 20th century who discovers an old diary in an antiques shop.
  • Arthur Drake is a schoolboy in the 1930s who joins with a gang of street kids to form a detective agency, The Invisible Detective.
  • Meg, Jonny and Flinch are the other partners in The Invisible Detective, each with a particular talent to offer.
  • Mr Fredericks seeks the help of the Invisible Detective in finding his lost cat.

Synopsis:

Meg, Jonny, Filch and Art try to connect Mr Frederick's lost cat, a sudden plague of rats, and mysterious activity down in the sewer. What they discover is that a monster is haunting the drains, taking the local cats as food and causing the rats to flee before it.

Notes:

General: Rather disappointing. As with the previous book, the device of the modern-day Arthur Drake finding himself remembering things which the 1930s Art (Arthur's grandfather, in fact) got up to doesn't seem to lead anywhere. The story is quite tame and doesn't hold together terribly convincingly: why is the monster there? Why does Mr Fredericks ask the Invisible Detective for help at all? And so on.

Friendship: A lot of the appeal of the book is the quiet friendships between the children in the group: the way they look out for Flinch who's homeless, support Meg whose father abuses her and so on.

Then he turned and ran for the house, grabbing Flinch's hand as he reached her and dragging the girl after him.

“What is it?” she gasped. “What's in there?”

He tore open the kitchen door and flung himself inside, still holding tight to Flinch's hand. “Rats! Hundreds of them.”

They both froze. Jonny's words could just as easily have been a description of the inside of the kitchen. There were rats everywhere. The floor was a carpet of the creatures, long, scaled tails flicking across each other's slimy backs as they jostled and fought. The sink was overflowing with the creatures, their dark eyes picking up the moonlight and shining in the gloom. There were so may it was impossible to tell where one of them ended and another began. And they seemed to move as one creature — towards Jonny and Flinch.

Sunday 18th January 2004