Titus finds hope when his friend, the policeman Inspector Pilbury apprehends and hangs the perpetrator of the crimes - or has he?
This is a tense thriller aimed at young readers KS2. Sarah Naughton combines the conventions and themes of the period detective story with the fashion for the supernatural to create a rich mix of intrigue and the macabre.
The Victorian background, especially the dirt and lawlessness of Titus' world, are neatly conveyed without resort to Dickensian prose. Indeed, the narrative style is briskly contemporary ensuring young readers will be able to turn the pages effortlessly. And there is plenty of action to excite them, from the drama of the opening chapter to the final climax.
The Hanged Man Rises
Titus and his little sister, Hannah, are attractive protagonists, their relationship providing enough human interest to underpin the plot and add depth. Nor do they operate alone.
The presence of the adult, Inspector Pilbury, lends an element of realism - without detracting from the central role of the young people, Titus and his friend, Lilly. Young readers today have sophisticated tastes, fed by film and television dramas; they look for similar themes and pace in their reading - but at an appropriate level.
Although their friend Inspector Pilbury captures the killer quite quickly, all is not what it seems and the murders continue even after the madman has been hung. Titus must try and find out the truth and stop the killings before he loses everything he holds dear.
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With vivid details that recreate the cruel reality and violence of the slums, this is a story that grips the reader right from the start. Like any good ghost story, it sends shivers down your spine while making you want to find out what happens next. It is hard not to cheer for the characters even when you think they are going to end up in even greater danger.
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