Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Children’s Books: Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards

I have always wondered what would happen if vampires kept turning people into other vampires every time they bit someone. Most books suggest that it isn’t that simple, that the majority of victims simply die, or that vampires are born rather than made.

Parliament of Blood (Bloomsbury) gleefully runs with the notion that getting bitten infects your blood and turns you into a vampire almost immediately unless you can get hold of silver and holy water right away in order to clear the infection. Late in the Victorian era, the vampires have come to realize that they’re going to run out of supplies if they’re all awake at once. They operate in shifts, sleeping for decades or centuries and waking up to take their turn. Another problem: with the development of photography, they’re finding that they don’t show up. Humans are going to figure it out sooner or later.

Time to waken the Lord of the Undead, an ancient Egyptian mummy who conveniently speaks English. Luckily for the London vampire community, they have members in high places, centred around a gentleman’s club known as the Damnation Club. Unluckily for them, they have to contend with young engineer George Archer, currently working at the British Museum in a mysterious department not known to the general public, his boss Sir William, former pickpocket Eddie and their friend Liz.

The action is almost non-stop as the friends work in their various ways to stop the vampires taking over the Empire. Justin Richards has become known as the author of entertaining fantasy adventures for children and this delicious romp doesn’t disappoint. Kids will love it. Although it’s supposed to be for readers from ten to f14, I’d place it slightly higher, as the characters are nearly all adults or young adults. Still, just hand it to your kids. They will work it out.

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