A superlative adventure peppered with deadly thrills and traditional death rhymes - a delicious mix of gothic horror and Indiana-Jones-style action.
Every now and then, a gentle scratching made Josie flinch and pull the bedclothes closer round her.
'I can come in whenever I want to,' the noise seemed to gloat. 'You may think you're safe, but I can come in. Whenever I want.'
Josie is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, her brother Alfie is an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible Aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave. Cardamom was one of three explorers on an expedition to locate the legendary Amarant, a plant with power over life and death. Now, pursued by flesh-eating crow-like ghuls, brother and sister must decode the message and save themselves from its sinister legacy.
Jon Mayhew is a man with a dark imagination, who has always loved writing and storytelling. An English teacher (to children and teenagers) for 20 years, he now works as a specialist teacher for children with autism. He has four children himself and, when neither teaching nor writing, he plays in ceilidh bands and runs marathons.
Mortlock, published by Bloomsbury, is his first novel. Jon lives between the ancient cities of Chester and Liverpool.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Jon Mayhew