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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, dark children's adventure, 8 April 2003
By 
HLT (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Paperback)
Perhaps it's becoming overly fashionable to compare children's books with Philip Pullman's work, but it's a valid thing to do in this case: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is set in a quasi-Victorian London with has something of the flavour of Lyra's world from His Dark Materials, and possibly Sally Lockhart too, though this is a lot darker and more magical. I'm also tempted to draw a comparison with Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines. If any of those works appealed, I think this will too.
The story is set in an alternative London which was heavily bombed by German airships, which somehow unleashed a plague of wychkin - monstrous creatures that prey on the citizens. The profession of wych hunter has thus come to prominence, and much of the book concerns the activities of one of these wych hunters.
Throw in an evil conspiracy, a budding romance between the wych hunter and the eponymous, threatened Alaizabel Cray, some excellent monsters and villains, and you have a mix of adventure and excitement that keeps you turning the pages. Perhaps the most notable thing is Chris Wooding's power of description: it's almost as if the scenes have dripped straight onto the page along with his ink.
The characterisation is perhaps a little weaker. The story is told partly from an omniscient point of view, which sometimes detracts from character identification. Another small flaw was with the ending: one of the protagonists - who appears to be in big trouble - escapes rather easily and rejoins the main group. Once that happened, I felt that the tension slackened somewhat: it's not always a good idea to give the reader what he/she wants :-)
Despite the above quibbles, this is an engaging and exciting read. If I could, I'd award 4.5 stars, because it's not quite up there with Pullman.
Some of the material may be slightly adult: there are harlots walking the streets along with the wych hunters and cutthroats, but there's nothing that I think would be inappropriate for the average teenager.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wow! haunting indeed!!, 20 May 2004
This review is from: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Paperback)
I'm a 14 year old who is mad about reading...I'll read almost anything, but this book just amazed me. From the first page, the scene is set with eerie intent, and the plot is tautly woven with plenty of clever twists. It is perfect for people who love macabre stories, and it is definitely a book for adults as well as children.
I enjoyed it so much because of the intriguing plot, but also because of the evil creatures and human beings that the heros must fight. They are created by an intricate and may I say slightly twisted mind! Another point I found intersting was the parallels between this book's post-war world and our own after the first world war. It lends a real humanity to the horror and fantasy, which I think helps you to feel for the characters and understand the events better.
I would be delighted if a second book was written, as their are enough plot threads untied to make a gripping sequel. However this book is excellent just as it is, and i recommend to anyone who wants to try something unusual. "The Haunting" really sums up what I felt as i read this!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb beyond expectation, 18 Oct 2004
This review is from: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Paperback)
I wish I could give it 10 stars!! The story is dark, mysterious and full of action. Reading it was like watching a movie directed by Tim Burton, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg, with dark foulsome enemies, ghoulish creatures and heart thumping actions.
Composing the story to reach the final destination of a single question: What is the purpose of your existence?, it started from some parallel events happening in London, after the Vernichtung (destruction -> a bit like WW). London, in the early Age of Reason, half of its area destroyed and marauded by wych-kins which have the ability and appearance like old lore beasts having been resurrected. Who ere they? Where were they from? What did they want? Why were they only known to exist after the Vernichtung?
In mist of the battle between humankind and the wych-kin, Thaniel Fox, a wych hunter and a son of legendary one, was fighting at the front line, companied by his ex-tutor, the eccentric Ms. Bennet. On one night of his hunting, he met a lost girl, Alaizabel Cray, who seemed mad and disoriented. Starting to feel something for her, Thaniel tried to find out whether she was just mad or there was something going on.
Alaizabel turned out to be the key to the biggest conspiracy that was conspiring to bring the the ultimate evil to earth.
Interweaving with the Thaniel's story is the infamous Jack the Ripper like story. A serial killer who murdered women by night with his surgeon knife. Who was he? Read on and you'll see that every character had a purpose in this story.
What would happen next? Could Thaniel and others intercepted the conspiracy? What was the forces outside their will whose only weapons are coincidences, unlikelihood and happenstances?
Read it, Be amazed by it and Read it over again!!
This certainly won't be the last book I read from Mr. Wooding.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy, Romance, everything, but most importantly, demons!, 21 July 2001
By 
There's a bit of everything in this book. Wych-kin, creatures from nightmares, have invaded London's old quarter. Thaniel Fox is a wych hunter. On the hunt for a CradleJack he meets Alaizabel Cray. She is important to an evil organisation whose plans will bring chaos and destruction on the world. That is, unless Thaniel and his fellow wych hunter Cathaline have anything to do with it. I promise you, this is one of the best books ever!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Things that go bump in the night!, 25 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This is a fantastic book which starts off brilliantly & then just gets better & better. Chris Wooding has created some truly memorable characters, from the heroic Thaniel, the mysterious Alaizabel & the sinister Stitch Face! The atmosphere is menacing & there are some really creepy moments as the Wych-kin roam the streets of London. If you enjoyed Phillip Pullman's "Northern Lights Trilogy" or you just enjoy a great story with lots of shocks along the way then this is the book for you. A brilliant book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucky Dip, 28 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Paperback)
I've got to admit I knew nothing of this book before I got it from my school library. It had been a random choice- being late for class I just grabbed any old book. As I was hurrying back to my classroom I gave it a look, the next day at school I started reading it and immediately fell in love, it was a great book. It never gets boring, there is constant action, loads of brilliant monsters and you really feel for the characters. Therefore I give it a high five. I highly recommend this excellent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars got me afraid of the tube, 4 Jan 2003
this has got to be the best book i ever read. it covers everything a book of its sort should, and has the most memorable characters i have ever read. stitch-face, the jack the ripper style villian, the devil boy, this freakish pre-adolescent who somehow knows exactly what is going on around him even though hes had his eyes stitched together. rawhead and bloody bones, probably the most graphic creatures ever, even though bloodybones never comes into it and rawhead only makes a cameo. chris wooding has this great talent for writing cinematically, meaning the second you have finished you feel as though you saw it at the cinema, rather than read it. he has an incredible imagination, on the same level as terry pratchett, douglas adams, and phillip pullman. this is definately worth the time and effort that went into it and the time it takes to read it. his best work to date.
ps. chris wooding is working on a script for it to be transformed into a film. can't wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling & thought-provoking, 24 July 2001
By 
Mr Duttz (Ormskirk, UK) - See all my reviews
The city in the book felt very real, but it was fascinating to explore it through the characters and find that it was almost like an offshoot of the real London, one where time & destiny had been thrown off course. The story was thrilling and the I thought the intervention of Stitch-face was an excellent and unforeseen ploy. It was almost like "Sherlock Holmes" meets "Neverwhere". I'm not sure that it should be rated under Childrens' books....perhaps it's another cross-category book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a book to read if you live in London!, 10 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Basically, I read this because I'm a big fan of Broken Sky, which is by Chris too, and I was a bit sceptical, as the only 'horror' books I ever read were by R.L Stein, and they were more like comedies. But this is great stuff, because it talks about the people involved as well as just, oh my god, there's a monster! And instead of being 'aliens from another dimension' or the vengeful gardener in a mask, the monsters are believable, and twice as scary... This is great stuff, but don't read it a) when you're supposed to be doing you're homework, or b) in the dark.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read, 24 Sep 2002
read read read away. character depth, original plot and entrancing ideas. this is the last book i've read and it's a favourite! you follow the wych-hunters on their journey to,er,save mankind!!! sounds simple but believe me it's not, it's spellbinding.
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The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding (Paperback - 17 May 2002)
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