The Shadow Arts (# 2)

Series: Monstrous Devices
Publication Date: 2 Jul. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9780861540860

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    A few months ago, Alex's world changed"¦forever.

    Now, just when it seems life is almost getting back to normal, Alex's grandfather crashes back into the picture with grave news: their friend Harry has fallen into the clutches of a familiar foe, and the old man needs Alex's help to rescue him.

    This time, the duo's desperate dash across Europe leads from Paris deep into Germany's foreboding Black Forest, as they chase down the mystery Harry had been investigating when he disappeared. A series of art thefts has made headlines across the continent, but the thieves are after more than priceless paintings. In the wrong hands, these stolen artefacts could unlock an ancient secret bigger than anything Alex ever dreamed of. If they can't solve the riddle in time, innocent lives--and even history itself--could be at stake.

    Information

    Book Type: Junior High
    Age Group: 12 years +
    Traffic Lights: Amber
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5
    Literary Rating: 4/5

    Review

    In Monstrous Devices, Alex's world was changed forever when he was pulled into a hunt across the world. His grandfather had gifted him a toy robot which held a tablet containing the 72 names of God, capable of unleashing a powerfully destructive golem. Pursued by the Tall Man, Alex and his grandfather had to work to avert disaster.

    Now Alex's life has been turned upside-down again. His grand-father is trying to find his missing friend Harry, who had been investigating a series of art thefts. Their best chance to find Harry is to solve the mystery--but it's bigger than they could have realised. They come across Harry and the members of the Fishing Club, a secret society who has been concealing something within paintings. The stolen art pieces combined will lead the thieves to a secret ruin in the Black Forest, the site of a great calamity in the 15th Century. The Tall Man is trying to open the Shadow Gate there.

    Alex, his grandfather, Harry, and two members of the Fishing Club travel to the ruins to stop them. But as they do, Alex begins to realise there's more to the story of his father's death than he realised. And there's more to Alex than anyone accounted for. The Tall Man is Alex's great-grandfather. Alex's bloodline is powerful--that's why the Tall Man is so intent on him.

    Worse, Alex discovers that the Shadow Gate is a doorway through death--a wormhole through the Beyond. The Tall Man intends to step through it and, in doing so, cheat death. Alex is pulled through during the ritual, and then summoned out again by a group of teenagers who were messing about with demon-summoning. In a final battle, the Tall Man and Alex grapple psychically for power. Alex is able to fend him off--but he's not gone for good. And his grandfather has been gravely injured. Alex isn't sure what's going to happen next, but for the moment, he has peace and quiet.

    A thrilling follow-up to Monstrous Devices. Ideas from Jewish theology, like golems and the power in the names of God, are woven skilfully into the worldbuilding. Alex's complex relationship with his father and need for family drive him, but as he learns more about his past, he also gains a stronger sense of self. Witty dialogue and an intricate mystery draw the pieces of this narrative together to form a highly satisfying whole. We look forward to the next instalment!

    Themes

    adventure, action, mystery, art, suspense, family, secrets and deception, trust, religion, power, science

    Content Notes

    1. Religious and supernatural themes, some taken from Jewish tradition--such as golems and the names of God--and others more closely aligned with the supernatural. 2. Mild violence.

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