Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Young Adult: The Witch Hunter Chronicles: Army Of The Undead by Stewart Daly

The year is 1666. The hero: Jakob, a teenage member of the Hexenjager, a German military witch and demon hunter organization. Jakob has been a member for only about
a month when, one night in a cemetery, investigating something fishy involving exhumed bodies, he learns something the Witch Hunters weren’t expecting. Something a lot nastier than a bunch of warlocks or minor demons.

Try fallen angels, never sent to hell because they’d be an asset to Satan. They’re not, by any means, hot teenage boy angels with an angst issue. They’re more like something out of your worst nightmare. If they get hold of something called the Tablet of Breaking, the world will be wiped out.

A team has to find this relic before they do or the world goes down the gurgler. Guess who is assigned to be a part of it?

From here it’s non-stop action as Jakob, his friend Armand, teenage girl Francesca, a tomb robber who collects relics for the Vatican and a crack team of the Church’s best fighters head for the Dead Sea via Greece, fighting zombies, death traps and monsters all the way.

The story is a sort of Three Musketeers-meets-Matthew-Reilly with a touch of Indiana Jones. In this case, Indy is female. Francesca is the expert on whom the fighters rely to get them through all those traps she’s encountered often in her career.

The author is a history teacher who knows his 17 century history. There’s a handy set of historical notes at the end and a bibliography for those who want to read further. Weapons, locations, even the primitive submarine, are all a part of history as it was.

The Witch Hunter Chronicles: Army Of The Undead (Random House Australia) is great fun and while it will appeal especially to boys, girls should enjoy it as well. Francesca is one classy chick. Even among all the gore, the bloodshed, the lurching zombies and having a limited time to save the world, there’s plenty of humor. The main characters are flawed enough to be likeable.

The book is the second in a series, but you don’t have to have read the first one to follow this one. There are mentions of things that happened in the first book, but the story is stand-alone.

Recommended for boys and girls from about 13 upwards. ◊

Sue Bursztynski lives in Australia, where she works as a teacher-librarian. She has written several books for children and young adults, including Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly and, most recently, the YA novel Wolfborn. Her blog, The Great Raven, can be found at http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.

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