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Candle Man

by Glen Dakin
ISBN: 978 1 4052 46767
Egmont (March 2010-02-22)
• Sam Hawksmoor review

In a novel treading the same grounds as Marcus Sedgwick’s 'Book of Dead Days' - the Gothic horror, the dank and dark sewers, children held prisoner by strange and weird adults and you have the recipe for Candle Man.

Of course children are never as cynical. They enjoy one vampire book, for example and seem to want to devour the rest, no matter who is writing them.  Glen Dakin has written Candle Man first in a planned triology knowing that kids like dark and gothic and strange and some will never have even heard of Marcus Sedgwick.  (More’s the pity).

Theo has been held prisoner by a weird bunch of adults for most of his life.  Mr Nicely the butler, Clarice the maid, and Dr Saint, Head of the Society of Good Works are the only people he has ever known in his short life.  They live in a weird mansion near a cemetery and Theo is allowed outside once a year on his birthday.  He has to wear special gloves at all times because he has a rare skin condition that requires daily treatment.

This birthday he finds a present has been left for him outside in the graveyard, the first one not given to him by his guardians.  He keeps this secret to open when he is not under observation.

Every night Theo is strapped into a radiation machine called the Mercy Tube which keeps what ails him under control and makes him very weak.  He hates this life but knows no other and has nothing to compare it with, though would love to know of the outside world. 

Above all, Dr Saint teaches him that the worse thing that can ever happen to him is ‘Happiness’ – which is a mortal sin.  Theo then has never known happiness.

That night he finally unwraps his present.  A snow globe of London but filled with black snow that falls like bats around the objects inside.  It’s the oddest thing, but he keeps it hidden because after all it is the only thing that is all his and from the outside.

A day later Theo is snatched from Dr Saint’s house by a terrifying flying garghoul and delivered to the Cemetery keeper and by them to the Society of Unrelenting Vigilance who have been waiting so very long for the chance to grab him.  The society is old and crumbling and the leader Mr Norrowmore is found dead, a skeleton in the communication room.
Theo is confused, has he been captured or liberated?  And what of Clarice, who has been the housemaid in his old life and is now suddenly on the other side with no explanations. It is she who bundles him into a vacuum tube and sends them through the air tight tunnels to the watchtower.

What is the secret of Theo’s hands?  Why does the Society of Eternal Vigilance want him?  What terrible secret has been kept from him and what about the monsters lurking in the sewers?  Who is there to trust?
There has been a war; London seems to have reverted to a Victorian world – much crumbled but with ever watchful CCTV. Dr Saint and the evil Lord Dove are seeking Theo using mind-reading machines and dark menacing creatures called smoglodytes that live in the dark.  They will do anything, destroy anyone to get at him as they have been promised their freedom if they find him.

Tense, fast paced, exciting and utterly weird we finally discover the terrible secret of Theo’s dark power and why so many people will kill to try and get hold of it.

Huge fun, you will be gripped and bound to be a big success

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