Ben Harvester sees what no one else can...
A cobbled alleyway - a place where it's always night - hidden behind a crack in the wall.
Mr October, a man of many faces and secrets, knows Ben has a unique gift. He sets out to recruit Ben to a top-secret, highly classified Ministry department - to help in an eternal war against an unspeakable enemy.
And so Ben begins to understand just how great and deadly his gift may be, and why it puts him and everyone he loves in grave danger...
Ministry of Pandemonium ~ a tall tales & short stories review
This is my second review this week in which a young boy is recruited to a top-secret, highly classified Ministry department - and they couldn't be more different. Whereas Department 19 was a high-octane, rather gory affair, Chris Westwood's, Ministry of Pandemonium, is a far spookier fantasy that much like the book's black-edged pages creates a palpable sense of a lurking, shadowy darkness creeping through every page.
This is a book about death in many forms; good and evil. There's a genuinely moving but subtle undercurrent of loss throughout the book which doesn't overwhelm, but seems appropriate given the subject matter, but it's also a book about hope and love - light and shade. My only real criticism is that I feel it could have been just a little shorter, there is a slight sense of repetition halfway through the book, and that Ben's mum's illness seemed rather too vague, but these minor quibbles certainly didn't detract from the story as a whole.
I think it will appeal to readers who like spooky, supernatural stories but are perhaps less keen on the gory side of things. Spooky is the name of the game and there are some intriguing twists and turns as Ben discovers what he is and exactly what the Ministry is about. Some of the Ministry's descriptions offer a visual treat and I could easily imagine this as a film - my particular favourite setting is the ever-expanding filing department. The characters are original and distinctive and many of them have some neat tricks. The main character Ben has a particular skill that shows the power of the imagination ( I don't like spoilers so you'll have to read the book to see what I mean.)
So, for fans of creepy, chiller thrillers this is definitely a book for you.