Warp the Reluctant Assassin reviewed by Leah Dillon aged 10

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Albert Garrick used to be the most celebrated illusionist in the West End, Known as the Great Lombardi, until during one performance, he actually sawed his beautiful assistant in half. Garrick discovered on that night that he enjoyed taking a life almost as much as he enjoyed the delighted applause from the stalls, and so the magician made a new career of assassination. Riley is Garrick’s apprentice and he must pass a test. The rules are kill or be killed. But Riley doesn’t seem to want to follow in his master’s footsteps…

I read the start of this book and I loved the author’s writing style but I am sorry to say that I didn’t finish it because it wasn’t really suitable for me. It kind of freaked me out…

So I guess that means it’s more suitable for teenagers and young adults. Then again, I’m more on the sensitive side so maybe some kids my age would like it, I don’t know. Anyway, the writing is great and the plot seems very interesting so those who the book is suitable for should love it. And after the author’s Artemis Fowl series’ success, you can only expect it to be good!


Tall Tales From Pitch End by Nigel McDowell

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Bruno lives in a town by the sea, populated by weary, downtrodden people who live under the constant surveillance of clockwork spies. When he discovers the true legacy of his long-dead father, he finds himself, somewhat against his will, in the thick of a plot to overthrow the sinister Elders who govern Pitch End.

   After a few mis-starts, I realised that I really loved this book. What took me so long to figure this out? Am I thick? Probably. I think what kept me on the fence so long was the fact that Bruno begins as a rather reactive character, and it is not until quite late in the story that he finally becomes proactive. That said, quite a lot of time and print has gone into building the fabulous and troubling world of Pitch End. The result is a setting that is grim, gothic and chilling, with a slight steampunk element that I loved. McDowell’s use of language is complex and uniquely beautiful. His style is what really made the book for me, so if you’re the kind of reader who appreciates language and loves a quirky style, this book is worth a go. 

   And did I mention it was dark? Oh yes, deliciously so. Violent too. Not to give away any spoilers, but if you’re under ten, don’t tell your responsible adult about the messy bits in detail. *

   My one criticism of this book is that sometimes the author seems to caught up in the beauty of his own writing that he loses the clarity of the scene, and it is often hard to visualise. On the other hand, he gives plenty of room for the reader’s imagination to fill in. The plot could have moved considerably faster, but then a lot of the building tension, that sense that Pitch End is the most dangerous place in the world, might have been lost.

   Finally, here is a book that shows us how the power of story can instil courage in even the most hopeless situations and inspire people to stand up to their oppressors. It’s well worth sticking with and even reading a second time. I am pretty certain there is nothing out there quite like it. 





*No, I don’t count as a responsible adult. Read whatever you like, see if I care…