With Halloween only a week and a half away and the shops full of spiderwebs and those giant pumpkins that no one in Australia buys at any other time of year, it seems like a good time to talk about a spooky book: Will Mabbitt’s Embassy of the Dead. And this is a pretty spooky book: there are a bunch of ghosts, and haunted places, and end-of-the-world-scenarios, and a pretty gruesome description of how a particular type of dog-thing called a bonewulf comes to be. It’s also a very British adventure story and a good bit of fun.
As the book begins, schoolkid Jake’s biggest problem is that his parents have recently split up and both of his parents are acting frustratingly weird about it. But as he’s walking down a dark alley late one afternoon, things get a whole lot worse: he’s accosted by a strange man called Stiffkey in an undertaker’s outfit who wishes him good morning and gives him a box. A puzzled Jake takes it home, and then finds out to his eternal horror that inside the box is the worst thing he’s ever seen: a severed finger. Then Stiffkey returns in a panic: it’s all gone horribly wrong, and Jake wasn’t the one that was supposed to get the finger in a box (obviously), but someone called Goodmourning, and it will all be okay if they get the box back to the Embassy of the Dead before someone opens it. But somebody–Jake–has. And the punishment for such things is banishment to the Eternal Void. Which is, well, exactly as terrible as it sounds. So now Stiffkey, Jake and a new…er…friend have to try everything they can to not be thrown into any voids, return the box, and save the world before the finger reunites with the very terrible body it came from…and hopefully not get busted by Jake’s parents in the meantime.
A rollicking, haunted adventure story full of breaking and entering, falling over in graveyards, underaged driving and a whole lot of suspense.