International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review
Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers
By Brian Keaney
Publisher: Orchard Books
Wolfe is a boy with a special talent. He can see ghosts.
Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers plunges the reader
into Victorian London, capturing the true atmosphere of the era
including the violent body snatchers who are robbing peoples
graves in order to make money.
Nathaniels grandfather steps in to try and stop the robbers, he
is shot and Nathaniel feels obliged to stay with him until he recovers.
However, somebody else wants Nathaniels assistance. A solicitors
clerk has had an encounter with a ghost and, having heard of Nathaniels
abilities, would like his help in getting rid of the unwanted visitor.
At first, Nathaniel is reluctant to leave, but with his grandfathers
encouragement, he agrees to help and we are suddenly part of a detective
story, stumbling upon clues as we go.
This is the second book featuring Nathaniel Wolfe that Brian Keaney
has written. It was a little slow to get started, with the characters
awkwardly trying to sum up the books predecessor: "But
its true that you foiled the plans of that dreadful man, Mr Chesterfield,
who had killed his wife and wanted to kill his stepdaughter? And that
you did so after seeing as apparition of some kind?". Once
the fairly unnecessary task of reciting the events of the last book
was out the way, however, the story picked up pace and turned into a
supernatural detective story that I became eager to follow.
Each of the characters is unique and has their own personal history
and quest in addition to the main adventure of the story. Nathaniel
is the reluctant hero who shies away from the unwanted attention his
paranormal abilities have earned him. Lily is his enthusiastic, determined
friend who has recently changed ranks from a parlour maid to a young
lady due to events in the previous book. On the verge of adulthood,
Lily is eager to show the world how mature she can be. Sophie is a young
lady who has led a sheltered life, but is eager to prove that she can
be of assistance in solving the mystery. Although things do not go to
plan, Sophie is forced to overcome some of her fears and her character
grows as a result. All of the characters are well developed and there
are even the beginnings of romantic tension between Nathaniel and Lily,
giving us a glimpse into the psyche of the teenage boy.
The story is also successful at depicting Victorian London, with information
on the transportation, the advances in medicine and vivid descriptions
of the sordid characters who lurked around the seedy East End.
I think Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers is an exciting
read with a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter to keep you hooked.
I hope that Brian Keaney decides to write a third Nathaniel Wolfe book
and thankfully, he seems to have left the story open to this possibility.
Nathaniel Wolfe and the Bodysnatchers seems like a good introduction
to the detective genre as a whole for children and I would highly recommend
it to its 9+ age target.
© Hannah Skorzewski April 5th 2009
Hannah is a graduate of Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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