I have read a lot of other Chris Wooding books. I loved Poison and enjoyed Storm Thief and Malice as well. This though, was one of the best of the bunch. This is a very well done book and creates a wonderful world with an excellent story.
Thaniel is a wych hunter, like his father before him. On one of his treks into the dark alleys of London, while tracking a Cradlejack, his is attacked by a young woman. He subdues her and brings her home. When she comes too he finds that her name is Alaizabel Cray and she has been possessed by an evil old wych named Thatch. Little do they know that Alaizabel is tied into much darker plans that threaten to destroy London. Thaniel and his friends will have to join forces with both legal and illegal forces to prevent a secret society, the Fraternity, from summoning darkness that will destroy first London and then the world.
The characters in this book were amazing as was the creative world that Wooding has created in Victorian London. Thaniel is an interesting character as a seventeen year old boy who was raised by the most prominent wych hunter in London. He feels a desperate need to prove himself now that his father is dead. Alaizabel is intriguing because of her mysterious past and her persistent ability to survive against all odds. Then you have Thaniel's guardian Cathaline, the Beggar Lord, Carver a determined police deputy, Stitchface (A serial killer of dubious alingment), and the Fraternity themselves. All of the characters are incredibly interesting and have many shades of grey to their personalities.
This is not a light-hearted book, it is very dark and has a bit of a steampunk tone to it. Most of it takes place in dark places and the hunts are for monsters and other evil things. The book isn't incredibly gory, but it is very spooky. The action scenes were very well done.
The plot was amazing and it was nice how the number of small plots that were going on all tied together. In true Chris Wooding style there is a revelation at the end that is surprising and thought-provoking. Wooding is very good at throwing something crazy at you at the end and it is always something that makes you think.
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for middle grade and older readers. It would probably be a bit scary for younger children; a lot of people do die and it is a very dark story. I loved the way it ended and kind of wished we would get to join Alazaibel, Thaniel, and Cathaline on more adventures.
Chris Wooding continues to be one of my favorite authors. Next up to read from him is Fade and then the next book in the Malice series Havoc.