This is the second book in a paranormal trilogy about teenager Luke Manchette and his dealings with his father’s secret ghostly life.
Luke lives in modern day UK in a small, nondescript village. He goes to the local high school, has a messy bedroom and, except for the fact that he can see ghosts, he’s generally a normal teenager. However, his girlfriend Elza is kind of a witch and he met the Devil last Halloween. It is this casual normality sitting alongside a world of ghosts and spooky magic that makes this story work so brilliantly.
The story picks up Luke’s tale almost a year after he thought all that supernatural stuff had finished for good. Luke just wants to fit in with his old friends again, but knows the strange things that have happened makes that impossible: “I’m a freak now and everyone knows it. I’m a freak with a freak girlfriend, and I have a freak mum and a dead freak dad and a freak dog and I live in the Freak House at Number One, Freak Street.”
One good thing to come out of it all is his girlfriend. Elza has never fitted in and is comfortable being herself, she is strong and doesn’t care to try to be something she isn’t. Elza and Luke are trying to settle into a new school year when the mysterious Ash Smith arrives, setting all the weird things in motion again. Once again Luke finds himself talking to ghosts, digging up the strange and powerful Book of 8 and pitting himself against the spirit world. This time though, the stakes are higher – literally life or death. Luke is going to have to do what no other necromancer has ever done, or it’s all over.
Author Leo Hunt has captured the voice of his teenaged characters to a tee; perhaps because he was one when he penned the first book 13 Days of Midnight, while in his first year of university. He has created likeable, genuine characters who work well together, and the cast of varied ghosts are just as believable, all with their own personalities. Everything from the ghosts, to the spells, to the daring plan to traverse the Otherside makes perfect sense, and none of it is graphic or nasty.
As a stand-alone book, 8 Rivers of Shadow works well, there is just enough information to fill you in on what has happened previously, and the story is entertaining and well-crafted, with plenty of moments delivered with just the right touch of humour. In saying that, you will be missing out if you don’t read the first book and I for one, am eagerly awaiting the release of the final instalment.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
8 Rivers of Shadow
by Leo Hunt