Review Blog

Nov 16 2011

The Witch Hunter Chronicles: The army of the undead by Stuart Daly

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Random House, 2011. ISBN: 9781742750552.
(Age 12+) Recommended. This, the second book in the Witch Hunter Chronicles, follows the adventures of 16 year old Jakob von Drachenfels. In the first novel, The Scourge of Jericho, Jakob joins the Hexenjager (an order of witch hunters in 1600's Germany) under false pretences. Having barely survived his first encounter in a witch infested castle, in this the second novel, he is part of a team racing across Europe and the Ottoman Empire to prevent The Watchers (fallen angels) from destroying the Tablet of Breaking and bringing about the end of the world.
This is a rollicking, historical action adventure that runs at breakneck speed. It is a cross between The Three Musketeers, Tomb Raider with a big nod to Indiana Jones. Full of sword fights, zombies, evil angels, traitors and booby trapped lost temples, there is much that teenage boys especially will enjoy. There is a fair bit of gore, and horrifying deaths, and the death rate does take its toll on young Jakob. He sees many of his friends and allies brutally killed in front of him, and then witness the terrible indignity they suffer, when they are raised from the dead by The Watchers. Former friends are now zombies and deadly enemies and he is faced with the dilemma of having to destroy those he loved and respected. Considering the amount of hardship and terror Jakob faces, he shows fortitude to continue on the quest with the determination that the deaths will not be in vain.
The author is a history teacher, and this shows in the attention to detail, historical notes, lists of weapons and a bibliography at the end of the book. There is also the sense that the author is having fun with twisting events of the past to suit his story. There is even a Leonardo da Vinci inspired submarine - and more booby traps than all the Indiana Jones movies combined.
I can imagine that this series will be popular with ages 12+ particularly, but not exclusively, for boys.
Alicia Papp

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