Friday, 15 March 2013

A Daddy Review of "The Battles of Ben Kingdom Book 1 - The Claws of Evil" by Andrew Beasley (Usborne Publishing)

Once again, Daddy strays off the leash for a dip into a fantastic book that mixes Victorian London with a cast of characters to die for. Step Forward the cocky and jaunty Ben Kingdom, and his first adventure "The Claws of Evil" (Book 1 of 5) by Andrew Beasley.

When Ben Kingdom comes into the possession of a mysterious coin, his life is set to change forever. Instead of scraping out a squalid living amongst the filthy streets of Victorian London, Ben Kingdom is destined for better things as the opposing forces of good and evil prepare for war.

Though you'd probably describe the book as being flavoured with the delicate spice of Steampunkery, Ben Kingdom's first adventure introduces us to the setting and character without too much reliance on the usual Steampunk standards of big clanky machines, or intricately crafted gadgetry. Instead, the story concentrates on opening the window to Ben Kingdom's world, and his early alliances - first with the shadowy and sinister Legion and their hateful foot (or should that be 'wing') soldiers, the Feathered Men. Led by the nefarious Claw Carver, they enlist Ben Kingdom through the feminine wiles of Ruby, a girl who finds the cocky Ben a rather fascinating character.

Before long, it's time for Ben to work out where his loyalties lie, as he meets The Watchers, a ragtag gang of orphans led by a darkly mysterious individual known only as The Weeping Man.

The pace of the novel is frenetic, the world Andrew Beasley has hewn from the fertile source of Victorian London is fascinating, but I constantly felt like a lot was being held back to blow you away in the books to follow. Who is the mysterious Egyptian? Why does Mr Sweet want to destroy the British Empire and all it stands for, and why does everyone want to get their hands on those mysterious coins?

You'll find out a lot more when Book 2 (The Nightmare Child) arrives very soon. In the meantime, dip into Ben Kingdom's world if you love high adventure and excitement, you won't be disappointed.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Usborne Publishing)