Mortlock, by Jon Mayhew
1820 – Abyssinia. Three friends, Mortlock, Chrimes and Corvis, travel to the dark wilds of the world in search of the mysterious Amarant-a legendary flower with the power over life and death. Like a good old Indiana Jones film, the friends cross a bleak desert before striking out into dense jungle where they stumble upon the beautiful Amarant in a clearing. After escaping from the living corpses that surround it, they realise how powerful the flower is and make a blood pact that none of the three will take it or speak of it again.
1854 – London. Chrimes is no longer the freckled, sun burnt moaner who braved the jungles with Corvis and Mortlock. He is now known as The Great Cardamom, a conjuror who performs every night to astounded audiences with his knife throwing, acrobatic assistant Josie. When Josie’s ‘Aunts’ come to town, she soon realises they are not only there to see her guardian Cardamom. The Aunts are in fact flesh-eating, raven-like Ghuls and are after the one thing Cardamom never speaks of, the Amarant. With his life being drained by the Aunts, Cardamom gets a secret note to Josie in the hope that she will escape the Aunts and find the Amarant.
But first Josie must seek the help of Alfie, an undertaker’s assistant with a strange talent for making corpses move. He and Josie have never met but their pasts are inextricably linked and together they must discover the secrets of the Amarant and destroy it before it causes more damage.
The children go on an almighty adventure through the dark streets of Victorian London, to the evil Rookery Heights, home to Lord Corvis and the Aunts, and finally to Lorenzo’s Incredible Circus where the performers are cursed and must entertain audiences of the dead.
The story will keep you hooked throughout with its bullet quick pace and enigma surrounding Mortlock. The book gets a little dark and gory at times with the dead rising and evil Ghuls tucking into people’s stomachs and eyes but that only adds to the macabre settings and sinister powers the Amarant holds. Read if you dare as the Amarant can trap even the most innocent of hearts with its epic beauty and dangerous promises of life after death.