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Friday, 22 January 2016

Ministry of Pandemonium

The Ministry of Pandemonium was written a few years ago now, and I found it by chance in the local library as I was randomly choosing YA books to get my head around the style and language of the genre.

It's a curious take on the rather saturated paranormal genre in the way that its main protagonist is a lad, there's no sexy vampires/Angels/demons/
fairies/witches. In fact the mentor role is filled by a face-changing 'agent' called Mr October (gave me a real Sapphire and Steel vibe oddly) who meets our troubled Teen, Ben, in a graveyard.

Gradually Ben is introduced to an unseen parallel world of spirits and demons. October teaches Ben about finding and guiding the recently deceased safely to the afterworld, in opposition to demons who seek to capture souls to feast on them. A pretty good premise, that feels a little clunky in places as Ben and colleagues from the Ministry (who work to organise said spiritual guidance) utilise special magical powers in their missions. Ben's abilities manifest through the book, and seem a little too much like superpowers. 

What's good? Well, Ben and his back story with his Mum is nicely handled. Their relationship is pivotal and poignant in many places. The supporting characters are good: Becky, the female lead, and Mr October are enjoyable. 

Less good, is the plot seems to meander in places despite the punchy writing style, and the book very much felt like a superhero origin story, jamming in as much info and subplot as possible, leaving a mountain of plot threads for sequels. That's not a bad thing, as there is a sequel, but I could see how being obliged to read it to resolve plot strands might irritate some. Specifically the repercussions of Ben's actions at the end feel utterly unresolved by the last chapter.
So worth a read, if you like slightly disturbing YA paranormal fiction, and the potential for a good series. I certainly got a televisual vibe out of it- perhaps like Supernatural or Grimm, or even a graphic novel would fit the narrative well.