Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Lunatic's Curse by F. E. Higgins

The Lunatic’s Curse is a strange little book – part of the ‘Tales from Sinister City’ series by F. E. Higgins (although you don’t have to have read the previous titles to enjoy The Lunatic’s Curse, there are nice little tie-ins), which recount odd tales about the fictional city of Urbs Umida and its peculiar residents in and around the 1800s. It is aimed at older children, but don't be put off as I think all ages will enjoy the delightful offerings: the plot is always very inventive, clever and unique with plenty of twists to shock you and keep you stuck to the book; they’re very well-written in an appropriate style for the time era with humour and unusual well-chosen words that may have you consulting a dictionary. They all have fairly morbid and gruesome parts, but they give the books a very definite and unique feel. It’s a shame the series doesn’t appear to be very popular as they really are treats to read.

It’s difficult to describe it well and not give away any spoilers, but basically The Lunatic’s Curse focuses on Rex, whose father turns suddenly mad one evening at dinner, and is taken to the inescapable Lunatic Asylum. Rex, desperate to prove his father’s sanity (as he is sure his father was set up by his new wife) and see him again, uncovers a shocking scandal when all of the lunatics manage to escape and the tramps begin to disappear off the streets… Secrets are brought to light, no one is to be trusted and seemingly unrelated events are revealed to be connected in a brilliantly clever way in the adrenalin-fuelling climax.

I liked the different formats, such as the letters and newspaper extracts, and I also liked the varied points of view, like the interesting one of the monster in the lake. You really root for the characters, or genuinely despise them and hope that they get their comeuppance they are so well-written. The twists are sometimes obvious and clearly some things were not-so-subtly placed there to set up twists, but on the whole I was not expecting them.

I really recommend The Lunatic’s Curse and its predecessors The Black Book of Secrets, The Bone Magician and The Eyeball Collector, even if they’re not your usual type of book, you are sure to enjoy them.
[SYNOPSIS: Deep within the heart of the Moiraean Mountains lies the town of Opum Oppidulum - home to the freezing Lake Beluarum and its rumoured monster. An inescapable asylum stands in the centre of the lake, enclosed by the sheer cliffs of Drop Rock island. When Ambrose Grammaticus, famous inventor and master engineer, viciously attacks his own son, Rex, he is hauled to the island and imprisoned. Rex knows his evil stepmother, Acantha, is behind his father's 'madness', but how can he prove it? Only the asylum holds the answers . . . A savage story of treachery, lunacy, greed, revenge and pure unadulterated wickedness.]


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