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28
4.3 out of 5 stars
Mortlock
Format: HardcoverChange
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is one creepy book and while it was good it really wasn't for me as it was a bit too creepy and gory.

The novel is set in Victorian London and follows the story of orphaned twins Josie and Alfie as they try to uncover the mystery of a secret connected to their past, that has been passed on to them in in a note by Josie's dying guardian.

The story starts off at break neck pace and keeps it up throughout with engaging twists and turns. Despite being totally freaked out at some of the passages (there are some truly horrible descriptions of evil birds attacking people) I had to keep reading to find out what happened. The most disturbing bits for me had to be when anyone was stuck in a house with the aunts and the section at the circus. It is quite a feat to freak me out but this book did it.

My historical head loved the setting of Victorian London with the descriptions of East End living and the truly horrible conditions people endured.

Definitely not one for younger readers as there is a lot of gore throughout The story is very macabre throughout and despite me not being keen on some of the content it is actually written very well. . The final ending was good (albeit still freakishly creepy) as it brought everything together well (I do like a nice ending which answers everything) and summed up and finished the story nicely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is a dark and twisted horror story in a glorious Victorian setting; it is so good that I am still struggling to believe that this is Jon Mayhew's debut novel.

This is a stunning story and, cliched though this may sound, you really will not want to put it down. Read it on the train and you will probably miss your station; read it at night and before you know it will be the early hours of the morning (and then you won't dare turn off the lights for fear that those noises outside or in the attic may be the scratching beaks or talons of the abominable Ghuls). The pacing of the story drew me in right from the very start, and with all the requisite peaks and troughs to keep the tension mounting throughout the book I found myself on one hell of an escapist ride.

Mr Mayhew obviously put a great deal of time and effort into researching this story. His atmospheric descriptions of the Victorian locations and characters reminded me very much of the work of a couple of my all-time favourite writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe. The villains created by the author would also sit very well in a Poe horror story - the three Aunts that turn into the flesh-eating raven-like monsters are evil personified, and once they morph into these awful creatures and attack their victims the author is not afraid to continue with the detailed descriptive writing. There is certainly no attempt to patronise his audience by sanitising these scenes; they are gory and will keep the hearts of horror fans beating rapidly. Whatsmore, unlike some horror authors, Mr Mayhew doesn't go over the top by including too many of these gory moments - just enough to keep the tension at explosive levels whenever the Ghuls appear. Unfortunately for the story's main characters the Ghuls are not the author's only despicable and terrifying creation - just wait until they stumble across Lorenzo's Incredible Circus!!!

On the subject of characters, Mr Mayhew has also excelled in this area too. Josie and Alfie are entirely believable; in fact, Mr Mayhew seems to go to great lengths to make them appear to be as ordinary as possible. Josie is described as being plain, with "dull brown" eyes and her brother "small and pinched-looking". As in the majority of these types of stories there is also a host of colourful secondary characters who come and go throughout the book; every one of these is believable, and they all help the story progress in their own little way.

Mr Mayhew has since written the equally fabulous The Demon Collector and I believe he plans to write one more book set in this era - if it is even half as good as Mortlock and The Demon Collector then he will surely earn a thoroughly deserved place in the pantheon of childrens' horror fiction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2011
I am 7 years old and I recently read Mortlock.

Mortlock is an exiting thriller, containing lots of blood and gore!

These are the things I enjoyed the most about Mortlock -

Descriptions
The words he uses paint vivid pictures which helps bring the story to life.

Characters
Each character has a major part to play and has exciting skills and jobs.

Plot
Each story component creates an exiting, complicated story structure

Poems
The similar rhythm and darkness of the poems help to create a bleak atmosphere.

Gore
The gore adds to the dark tone of the story also.

Personally I think Jon Mayhew is a fantastic author.
I'd love to know what inspired the author to write this book.

Arjun, age 7
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2012
I thought Mortlock wasn't a great book for one I thought the crows where a bit too violent. Also it didn't connect me with the main characters.I like it when the book views back into the characters past or at least tells you what happened to them and why. This is why I didn't enjoy the book.

Robbie

Age:11
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on 3 February 2015
I find it really hard to give a rating to Mortlock as I'm torn to whether or not I liked this novel.

On the one hand, it's fantastically atmospheric. The story paints a grim vision of Victorian London and the story's strong Gothic elements make it very eerie. It also has a surprisingly complex plot, containing many twists and threads which all come together neatly over the final act.

However, the story is incredibly slow moving times. After the exciting opening chapters, the novel began to lose my interest about 100 pages in. Although there were a few wonderful chase sequences after this, it never managed to fully grasp me again. It takes 300 pages to build to the climax and then resolves itself over 30, leaving me disappointed as it really did feel as though a lot of the earlier meandering was completely without purpose.

I also did not really like either protagonist. Josie was brave enough but never seemed to resolve anything by herself. All obstacles that she faced, including the climax, were largely resolved by other people (often due to them coincidentally being in the right place at the right time). Alfie was not much better. While his cockney accent gave him some faux charm, he did not have much personality and even his powers ceased to be used after the halfway mark. The only characters I really did enjoy were the adults - Chrimes, Corvis and Mortlock. I loved the fact that they all had different motivations for seeking the Amarant, as it showed a wide variety of human vices and their unique characters showed through their reasoning for wanting the cheat death.

Finally, I feel that I should warn people that this novel is really quite gory. The author's website says that it's aimed at children aged 8 and up but I think that younger readers could easily be scared by the strong horror elements of the story. Young teens should be fine but parents should probably read this one through themselves to be on the safe side before giving it to a middle grader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I finished this within a few hours of getting it after having it recommended to me by my (much) younger cousin. If you're a fan of creepy, gory books complete with magic, villains and contrasting hero/heroine combos then buy, buy, buy! Great for a light read [best in the dark] and will switch your brain half-off as you're absorbed into another world and taken on really good adventure.
I'm looking around for the author's other books and hope they are just as good.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book is a dark and twisted horror story in a glorious Victorian setting; it is so good that I am still struggling to believe that this is Jon Mayhew's debut novel.

This is a stunning story and, cliched though this may sound, you really will not want to put it down. Read it on the train and you will probably miss your station; read it at night and before you know it will be the early hours of the morning (and then you won't dare turn off the lights for fear that those noises outside or in the attic may be the scratching beaks or talons of the abominable Ghuls). The pacing of the story drew me in right from the very start, and with all the requisite peaks and troughs to keep the tension mounting throughout the book I found myself on one hell of an escapist ride.

Mr Mayhew obviously put a great deal of time and effort into researching this story. His atmospheric descriptions of the Victorian locations and characters reminded me very much of the work of a couple of my all-time favourite writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe. The villains created by the author would also sit very well in a Poe horror story - the three Aunts that turn into the flesh-eating raven-like monsters are evil personified, and once they morph into these awful creatures and attack their victims the author is not afraid to continue with the detailed descriptive writing. There is certainly no attempt to patronise his audience by sanitising these scenes; they are gory and will keep the hearts of horror fans beating rapidly. Whatsmore, unlike some horror authors, Mr Mayhew doesn't go over the top by including too many of these gory moments - just enough to keep the tension at explosive levels whenever the Ghuls appear. Unfortunately for the story's main characters the Ghuls are not the author's only despicable and terrifying creation - just wait until they stumble across Lorenzo's Incredible Circus!!!

On the subject of characters, Mr Mayhew has also excelled in this area too. Josie and Alfie are entirely believable; in fact, Mr Mayhew seems to go to great lengths to make them appear to be as ordinary as possible. Josie is described as being plain, with "dull brown" eyes and her brother "small and pinched-looking". As in the majority of these types of stories there is also a host of colourful secondary characters who come and go throughout the book; every one of these is believable, and they all help the story progress in their own little way.

I believe Mr Mayhew plans to write two more books set in this era - if they are even half as good as Mortlock then he will surely earn a thoroughly deserved place in the pantheon of childrens' horror fiction.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
It's 1854 and Josie (an orphan) is a knife thrower who performs a stage act with her guardian, a magician called the Great Cardamom. Josie's life changes forever the day three black-clad women calling themselves Aunt Veronica, Aunt Mag and Aunt Jay force their way into Cardamom's house seeking the Amarant, a mysterious object that they claim Cardamom stole. Ruthless and brutal, the woman will stop at nothing in their search and Josie realises that the only way to stop them is to find the Amarant for herself.

Her search brings her to Alfie, an undertaker's assistant and another orphan who can bring the dead back to life but only for a moment. Although they dislike each other on sight, they share a common past and with the Aunts closing in on them must learn to work together in order to unravel the mystery of the Amarant before darker forces use it for evil ends ...

Jon Mayhew's debut novel is a dark historical fantasy that takes John Milton's PARADISE LOST as a starting point and interweaving the lyrics of classic English folk songs to excellent effect. Josie is a resourceful heroine, used to taking care of herself and while she's driven by her love for her guardian, she is not blind to his faults. Alfie is a likeable hero, excited by his strange ability and keen to use it to prankish effect. The stars of the book though are the ghoulish Aunts, with their casual cruelty and strange other-worldly natures. The story really leaps to life when they are on the page and they are wonderful villains.

Friendship forms the emotional core of the novel - starting with the friendship of the three men who make a strange discovery while adventuring in Abyssinia and moving on to the developing friendship between Josie and Alfie.

There are some dark scenes in the book - a visit to a circus hidden deep within a forest takes a macabre turn as is the titular Mortlock, about whom the story turns - and the story features zombies, ghouls and also some character death. As such, it might be a little too much for younger readers. However anyone aged 10+ should love this story about characters overcoming hideous adversity to unveil ancient secrets.
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on 30 January 2013
A fantastic web of dark intrigue, written with talent and brimming with adventure. First reading it as a young teenager, I was sucked into the grim world of living corpses, murderous old crows and the somewhat familiar idea of bickering siblings (I've obviously no idea why that is so familiar to me... ahem...). Now picking it up again at university, I found it just as enthralling and a great book for a light evening read - if you're not easily drawn to nightmares of wicked women in black...
Read it. Just do it.
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on 31 October 2012
Mortlock is a unique, original and sometimes creepy book that is at it's heart, great story telling.

The story is original and very well written, although not what I would call scary the book however is at some parts quite gory and explicit in the explanations of violent scenes. I thought it was fine but for younger readers it's a little heavy.

Overall a good read, only downside is the story is really easy to remember so chances are I won't be reading it again anytime soon
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