The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst

Written by Griselda Heppel
Review by Jo Barton

Loosely based on the mythical story of Faust, The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst opens in England in 1585, and tells the story of troubled teenager, John Striven, who strikes an unearthly bargain with the demonic spirit, Mephistopheles. Four hundred years later, at Northwell School, thirteen-year-old Henry Fowst, desperate to win the school’s history essay prize, discovers John’s hidden diary, and in doing so, he inadvertently unleashes the spirit of Mephistopheles once again.

There is much to enjoy within the story. The cleverly constructed mystery at the heart of the novel is well controlled and the historical element sits comfortably alongside its modern day component. I enjoyed getting to know both young male protagonists; they are remarkably similar in many ways, and yet, the way in which they individually cope with their difficulties, allows a more detailed look at the way in which society has shaped their expectations.

Professionally produced to a very high standard, with age appropriate cover art, the novel sits comfortably within its genre and would, in my opinion, reach out to readers aged eleven to fourteen. An in-depth knowledge of the mythology which surrounds the story of Faust is not particularly essential as the book  reads comfortably without such knowledge, and most young readers are computer savvy enough to be able to look up the story should they wish to learn more.

I have no hesitation in recommending this historical time slip novel as an enjoyable and exciting read for young adults.