On the side of the angels …

Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood

Teenager Ben Harvester likes to get away from it all by taking his sketchbook into Highgate Cemetery.  His Dad left his Mum several years ago, they’ve had to move into a new flat and Ben will be going to a new school.  Added to that, his Mum has to work all hours to make ends meet and she gets so tired.

One day he meets an old man in the cemetery and helps him with a drink of water. Mr October seems to know things about his family, and Ben will soon see him again at the funeral of his aunt, after which he keeps a lookout for him. They meet again back in London, where Mr October introduces him to the Ministry of Pandemonium.  The Ministry is an organisation dedicated to helping ghosts of the newly departed across into the afterlife, thereby saving them from getting into the clutches of dark forces with their monstrous minions.  Ben, a helpful sort, has been selected to join the Ministry – and so begins his new other life …

The fantasy elements of this novel contrast well with those of the struggles of everyday life, new house, new school, missing Dad and tired out Mum. Ben grows to relish his new skills, and even though the job requires empathy and calmness, he soon has to battle evil creatures who want the souls for their own devilish uses.  Indeed, some of the monsters are horrific enough to scare adults, let alone teens.  You know however, that the forces of good will ultimately prevail.

Ben is a different kind of hero – caring, observant, quiet and artistic. These qualities made this adventure into the supernatural a much better and definitely more interesting read than almost all of the other YA fantasies I’ve read in the past few years – and I have read a lot of them!  This novel will be enjoyed by teenaged boys and girls alike too which is a great advantage, and I found it a jolly good read. (8.5/10)

I chose this book to review from a list sent by Amazon Vine.

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Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood