Arabian twist on Victorian thriller creates a gripping tale

John Millen
John Millen |

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The Bonehill Curse

By Jon Mayhew

Published by Bloomsbury

ISBN 978 1 408803974

A well-written Victorian English thriller is something readers can sink their teeth into with gusto because the genre is always rich in character and plot. A new book with the delicious title The Bonehill Curse promises much, and fans of Jon Mayhew's first two Victorian fantasy thrillers won't be disappointed with this intriguing novel that blends the conventions of a good old Victorian mystery with Middle Eastern magic.

Mayhew has already proved that he is a master of plot and character, and The Bonehill Curse is well up to the standard of Mortlock and The Demon Collector where this talented storyteller set his bar very high.

Necessity Bonehill is the young teenage daughter of rich Anthony Bonehill, a man with a dark and deadly secret. Bonehill has packed his strong-willed daughter off to a boarding school to get her out of the way while he plays a dangerous game that has put his family in great peril. Power-mad Anthony has set up a foolproof plan to use ancient Arabian magic to call up a spirit who will bring him everything he has always wanted.

He has brought together six others to summon a djinn - a type of genie - to do their bidding. It's all very simple. The first six members of the group will make their wish, and then the seventh person will use his wish to kill the djinn so that it cannot wreak any sort of revenge on the humans who have called it into being. What could be easier?

But Carlos Grossford, the all-important seventh person, double-crosses the others and decides to keep the djinn, so that he can grab all the wealth and power he wants. Carlos himself meets a sticky end, but not before he has got the djinn back into its bottle - and sent the bottle to Necessity Bonehill.

The scene is set for mystery and mayhem when Necessity unknowingly opens the bottle and releases the vengeful djinn. Ever-resourceful Necessity travels to London to warn her father that the djinn is on the loose. When she finds her home burned to the ground, Necessity sets off on a quest that takes her through the back streets of London and eventually to mystical shores well beyond England.

The Bonehill Curse is a gripping mixture of Victorian thriller and Arabian Nights magic, blending the best of both storytelling traditions to great effect. The whole story is wonderfully atmospheric with a great cast of characters. Necessity Bonehill is a strong central character who starts out as a bored and selfish schoolgirl but develops into a fully-fledged daredevil hero.

It takes a writer of Mayhew's storytelling skills to turn fantasy hokum into a gripping novel. He makes this tale of evil djinns, flying carpets and deadly revenge a top-notch action read where Indiana Jones meets Arabian Nights and more. Bonehill is a monstrously good read from a master tale-teller firing on all imaginative cylinders. What more could a reader want?

John Millen can be contacted on [email protected]