'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 9 February 2013

Review: Constable and Toop

It is England, 1884. Sam Toop and his father Charles own a funeral parlour in partnership with Mr Constable. Sam has a special gift. He is able to see the ghosts of the deceased. This is not always a bad thing, for ghosts have needs equal to those of the living.

Jack, Charles’ brother, is on the run for murdering a policeman. He comes to seek a hiding place with Charles after many years of separation. Against his better judgement, Charles hides him in a coffin and here begins a series of events that will test family loyalties and reveal secrets buried for years.

In a parallel story, Lapeswood is not keeping up with his paperwork in the land of ghosts who haven’t heard the Knocking and therefore have not passed through the Door. He is demoted and passed on to Housing. This role entails going up into the land of the living - the physical world - to discover and document why ghosts are disappearing from the houses they inhabit. Having been below for a long time, this is an extremely difficult and dangerous task because of the many changes that have occurred over time. Lapeswood meets Tanner, a street-wise and savvy rogue ghost who promises to be his guide and help him with his research.

These two amazing stories play out with many threads and characters intertwining through both stories. Written with alternate chapters showing the happenings of each world, we see the same battle of good versus evil playing out in both the ghostly and the physical world. It is a battle of emotions, secrets, family loyalties and love in the physical world, and a battle of power through insidious evil and destruction against the right to exist peacefully in the ghostly world.

This is an extraordinary powerful novel from the winner of the Blue Peter Book Award of 2012. It is dense in characters and actions. The perfect prose and storyline hold the reader’s attention every second thanks to the outstanding and unique themes of the book which centre on living and dying.

It is difficult to do justice to this outstanding work in a review.

- Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Title:  Constable and Toop
Author: Gareth P. Jones
Publisher: Five Mile Press, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: November 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781471400117
For ages: 9+ years
Type: Junior Fiction