Review by The Mole
We join Oz Chambers (11) at Hallowe'en and he intends spending the night, along with his friends, in the most haunted part of the house - and this house has a very spooky history. Getting the fright of their lives starts them on a trail of discovery about the history of the house - a house his father inherited 2 years ago, before his death in mysterious circumstances. The fly in the ointment is that his mother feels she needs to sell the house because of the cost of its upkeep - and she's frightened by the stories surrounding the house, stories she blames for her husband's death.
This is book 1 of the Artefact series and it's easy to believe that it's a hunt from one artefact to another but let's just pause a moment. The story talks of 4 artefacts and in this book we seem to find 2 and the series is a series of 5 books. In fact in this book we do a great deal more that find artefacts!
So the book is about the paranormal and an adventure hunt? Wrong again. There are some hugely important themes that almost drive the plot along. The first is bereavement. Oz misses his dad but that's an understatement because the hole in his life is much, much bigger than 'misses'. But his mum misses her husband too, severely - even two years on and it brought out the big black dog of depression that made the previous 2 years a huge burden on Oz as well. And these themes are dealt with in a sympathetic way that made me stop and realise how impactful these things must be on every member of a family. But it's not preaching and it complements the rest of plot in order to enhance it.
And who said it's paranormal? We don't learn exactly what it is but it appears to be science fiction or possibly science fantasy.
Many 'series' of books leave each one on a cliff hanger but not this one. It neatly doesn't wrap up the loose ends that will be the hooks into the next book but it does come to a sensible conclusion on the many themes that enable the book to be closed.
Absolutely, thoroughly enjoyable book that will delight 8+ readers and I am sure that it will appeal to both boys and girls.
Publisher - Spencer Hill Press
Genre - Children 8+ science fiction/fantasy
Buy The Obsidian Pebble (Artefact series)