Teenager Theo has led a dreary and isolated life until he discovers he has the power to melt people just by touching them. Then he finds himself at the very centre of a struggle for power between the Society for Good Works and the Society of Unrelenting Vigilance. For, beneath London, in a murky world of tunnels, secret passages and underground chambers a dangerous experiment is about to take place. Caught up in a series of narrow escapes, Theo has to come to terms with his terrifying powers as well as confront some very strange creatures.
The appeal of this book lies in its action filled storyline and finely depicted fantasy world. Especially effective are the smoglodytes – hideous creatures with transparent skin who live off fog. The plot moves quickly, helped along by short chapters and plenty of dialogue. Though the narrative does lose some momentum midway, it picks up again as we learn more about the Candle Man. Although the time setting of the novel is uncertain it has a Gothic atmosphere and, we are told, the Candle Man was a Victorian crime fighter.
The characters are varied, though rather thinly drawn, and other than Theo, there is a lack of young characters, which may deter some readers. Overall, the tone is lighthearted with touches of humour, and should provide an entertaining read for 8 to 13 year olds.