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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark times.. dark arts
A mysterious and murderous sect known as the Elect are purging the streets on Elizabeth I's London. They are targeting anyone who breaks the law or is not as faithful to their brand of faith as they are. They are staunch Puritans who seem not to take heed of the commandment thou shall not kill. These include the children who earn a living on the streets of London,...
Published on 15 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Too Dark for Younger Children
This is the story of `Jack the Nipper' who becomes, by choice, part of a web of thieves in Elizabethan London. He does not, however, bank on the black magic he gets mixed up with almost from the very start of his `career' when he pickpockets the wrong person, Christopher Webb, the antagonist of the novel. Left with a stained hand and a magical eye, the novel follows Jack...
Published 14 months ago by Brett H


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark times.. dark arts, 15 Jun 2012
By 
Amazon Customer "Fiona" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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A mysterious and murderous sect known as the Elect are purging the streets on Elizabeth I's London. They are targeting anyone who breaks the law or is not as faithful to their brand of faith as they are. They are staunch Puritans who seem not to take heed of the commandment thou shall not kill. These include the children who earn a living on the streets of London, confidence tricksters, molls and cut-purses.

This book follows Jack, an Artful Dodger type character who through necessity takes to crime in the streets of London. His mother is killed by Nicholas Webb, courtier and head of the Elect. In the midst of this attack jack experiences visions and is in danger of his life. The Elect wish to capture him and use his visions for their own ungodly purposes.

He has to elude their capture and bring them down, Difficult to achieve when you are an illiterate thief for the seedy parts of London. But Jack is not alone he teams up with Beth Sharkwell the Thief Princess of Lambeth, the spy Kit Morely, a professional spy and Doctor Dee, the Queens Necromancer. Aided by his visions he faces up to the threat of the Elect...

Do not read this book if you think it will be an Oliver Twist type novel, it is not. It is dark and creepy in places. There are bogeymen who think nothing of killing children and innocents to purge London of sin.

The book is powerful and really brings the era to life. There were passages when I did think that the book was a tad creepy for a children's book, however modern children tend to be more un-scare able then my generation was. No hiding behind the sofa at Daleks for this lot.

That being said I would watch which age group you give this book to. Adults will enjoy this book too, I did. Just don't expect a sunny, happy ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 26 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
Black Arts is very enjoyable; fast paced and tense, with engaging characters and flashes of real humour. The build-up towards the climax is expertly done - I read the book in two sittings (unintentionally) because I was so absorbed in the storyline. As other reviewers have commented, some of the scenes would probably not be suitable for children, but I think most teenagers would enjoy this, and as the writing definitely avoids the sometimes patronising tone of other books written for teenagers, most adults would as well. Looking forward to the next installment!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable read....., 25 May 2012
By 
B. Towns (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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I adore this period in history and the author captures the atmosphere, superstitious beliefs and quirkiness very well indeed.

My favourite novel genres are 'occult' / 'supernatural' and the book covers both bases in a completely satisfactory manner.

The story moves at a good pace, the characters are believable and you find yourself getting drawn into a world of intrigue, strange practices and revenge.

If you like 'occultic' type stories this is a must read.

Not for younger children in my opinion however, more for mid- to late-teens and up.

Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting read for young adults, 20 Jan 2014
By 
IWFIcon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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I'm not entirely sure what the intended age range is for this novel, but you'd be advised to steer pre-teenage children away from it...especially if they suffer from a nervous disposition.

It deals with thieves and vagabonds in Elizabethan England and the characterisations and situations leap off the page with a believability that many an "adult" book could do with adopting. Linguistically it oozes believability as well and whilst it could be said to take a little while to really get going it is soon rattling along at a fair pace with twists and turns to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up to attention.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely readable, full of atmosphere, 5 Dec 2013
By 
C. O'Brien (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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I often think YA (young adult) books are more fertile imaginatively right now than "proper" adult fiction. Despite my degree in literature and my advancing age I found this rollicking historical yarn completely absorbing and immensely readable. Concerning the adventures of Jack, a young thief in Elizabethan London, the book touches on all kinds of elements - not only thrills and spills but a genuinely sinister supernatural theme.

As well as exploring the very real dangers of 16th century urchin street life, it illustrates the climate of superstition & religious persecution that typified the age. Life in Elizabeth's London was nasty, brutish and short - but the writing here is rich, colourful and juicy, approximating the speech patterns and dialects of the time and place without ever becoming dryly academic or difficult to understand. The characters - creepy crime lord Sharkwell, foppish Smiles, vaguely vampiric Preacher Webb to name just three - are all big personalities, easy to visualise, difficult to forget. Meanwhile, the plot rattles along, drawing you in, keeping you turning pages.

Although written by a collaborating pair of authors - Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil - the language and style are seamless. I've no idea how they achieve such an integrated result. Imagine a mix of Dickens, Doctor Who and TV's 'Peaky Blinders' transplanted back a few hundred years, and you might begin to get the idea. Probably not suitable for young children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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Well who can resist a lead character called Jack? Set in Elizabethan London, this novel for younger teenagers was a little slow to get into its stride, but once into the story I found it an entertaining read.
The lead characters were believable and likeable. I did wonder if some of the more "horror" the scenes were suitable for younger readers - but I think that may be my adult self being a bit 'nannyish'. Kids love horror and magic, they'll love this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Aptly Named Book!, 19 Sep 2013
By 
H. Pierce (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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Black Arts is the first in a new series of young adult novels. It is set in Elizabethan London, and focuses on Jack, the 'Judicious Nipper'. London Town in 1592 is awash with a mixture of people. There are courtiers and traders, thieves and preachers, murderers and black magic. Demons are around too, if you find yourself mixed up in the wrong crowd...

A quirk of fate, when picking a pocket, finds Jack mixed up in the wrong crowd. His future will never be the same again...if he has a future at all.

Nicholas Webb is a courtier. He is also the leader of the 'Elect'; a group of Puritans who think nothing of murder in order to purge the city of those they do not perceive to fall in line with their views. They will murder men. They will murder women. They will murder children. They already murdered Jack's own mother, thus setting his path in blood...

Jack and Webb are on opposing sides, and they each have their own faithful team of followers. The Elect are very interested in young Jack, for he has an unlikely gift in him. Jack sees demons. This book is brimming with excitement and dark, mysterious occurrences. Jack, and his allies, have an uphill struggle to fight against a powerful enemy. The fight will not end well...

Overall, this story is utterly gripping. It is full of dark mystery, and may just bring a chill down your spine. It is suitable for young adults, and adults alike. Just be warned; this is no rose-tinted look at Elizabethan society. This is a book that does not shy away from the gorier aspects of murder and violence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 18 Sep 2013
By 
Nicolette Laurence "Lunarwillow" (Guernsey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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A pretty good read although not riveting. Worth a look for an easy to read, entertaining and slightly dark novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rollicking tale, 28 July 2013
By 
V. Joyce "hengemaiden" (Herts) - See all my reviews
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This is fast paced, sometimes thrilling, always engaging. I love the authenticity of the language too. Thoroughly entertaining, it keft me wanting more adventures from the nismatched trio left standing at the end. Great entertainment for adults and children alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Too Dark for Younger Children, 15 July 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Arts (Hardcover)
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This is the story of `Jack the Nipper' who becomes, by choice, part of a web of thieves in Elizabethan London. He does not, however, bank on the black magic he gets mixed up with almost from the very start of his `career' when he pickpockets the wrong person, Christopher Webb, the antagonist of the novel. Left with a stained hand and a magical eye, the novel follows Jack through his quest to wreak vengeance on Webb, whose preaching ways are soon shown to have a much more sinister angle.

The book is slow to get moving at the very beginning; the language and characters do not instinctively draw the reader in, and so this novel requires a patient reader. Such a reader is soon rewarded, however, with mostly well-rounded characters and vivid descriptions that ensure you keep turning the pages.

My criticisms of this book are few, but enough to drive this down to three stars. In my opinion, it never quite makes up its mind as to its purpose; what appears from the climax to be the central plot is very much in the background for the first half of the book and it did not develop quite enough for my liking. It also suffers from underdevelopment of the character of Webb, whom we never really come to understand.

This is probably too dark to be classed as a children's book - death and violence litter the novel - but 11+ is appropriate. As an adult reading this, I would not say it has an upper age limit; older historical fanatics will certainly enjoy the sense of place the book creates (although at times, frustratingly, there could have been more). Worth a read if you have the patience.
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Black Arts
Black Arts by Jonathan Weil (Hardcover - 29 Mar 2012)
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