Highlight: Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil - Black Arts
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: David Fickling Books (5 Apr 2012)
Jack walked slowly across the court. Already his heart was beginning to thud. He looked back as he was lifting the mat of ivy that hid the opening in the wall. His ma was standing at the door, watching him.
'I'll be back before sundown, then,' said Jack. 'And what else?'
She said it every day, before letting him go. The answer came on its own, like a ritual.
'Watch my back.' 'Never forget it, Jack,' she said. 'Stay sharp. Stand the test, and don't be afraid.'
They were the last words she ever spoke to him.
Elizabethan London is a filthy, dangerous city ruled by criminals. After his mother is murdered, Jack seeks refuge with a notorious gang of offenders, led by Mister Sharkwell. Offering his services as a thief, Jack earns his keep. But when the 'Judicious Nipper' picks the wrong pocket at the Globe Theatre, he uncovers another side of London altogether - a city pulsing with magic and haunted by demons.
As an outbreak of devil-worship is publicised, Londoners' hatred mounts in retaliation - forcing bewildered Jack into pursuing the truth in secret. The Elect - a band of Puritans preaching against witchcraft, magic and devilry - spearhead the city's anti-witch fervour, led by the charismatic Nicholas Webb. A growing power at Court, rumour has it that the preacher wants to purge the city entirely and build a New Jerusalem. But Jack suspects Webb - not least of killing his ma.
This atmospheric, action-packed story is the debut in an original series from talented and highly inventive duo, Prentice & Weil