Boy has to rescue dad from asylum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 February, 2011, 12:00am

The Lunatic's Curse
F. E. Higgins
Published by MacMillan Children's Books
ISBN 978 0 53232 8

It's convenient when the title of a book tells you exactly what you are going to read, and a novel called The Lunatic's Curse can only mean one thing - it is going to deliver a few shivers and thrills.

In the first three novels of the series, Tales from the Sinister City, F.E. Higgins crafted the spooky town of Urbs Umida with gruesome glee. Anything nasty could happen there, and it did. With this book, we move to the neighbouring town of Opum Oppidulum, where things are not much better.

Opum Oppidulum lies on the banks of the deep, black Lake Beluarum, said to be the home of a hideous monster. In the middle of the lake is Droprock Island, on which an asylum sits. Once a patient is declared insane and incarcerated in Droprock Asylum, it's goodbye to the world outside. No one is ever released.

Twelve-year-old Rex Grammaticus lives with his father, a talented engineer and designer, in a mansion on the banks of the lake. Grammaticus remarried recently, and Rex and his stepmother Acantha do not get along.

A shocking act of violence takes place at the dining table. Grammaticus is declared insane by the asylum's superintendent and taken away. Rex must now face his stepmother alone. He is determined to free his father.