Life has been rough to Thaniel Fox, our young, but toughened protagonist. Orphaned at a young age, and left with only his father's lessons on Wych-hunting, Thaniel follows in the footsteps of his father, and becomes a Wych-hunter himself. Thaniel roams the streets of a Victorian London, where the Wych-kin run rampant, and it is up to our hero to rid the streets of them. Thaniel has the power of Wych-sense, in which he is able to tell when a Wych-kin is nearby. This is how he stumbles upon the beautiful, but possessed Alaizabel Cray. By finding Alaizabel Cray, Thaniel becomes involved in much more than just Wych-hunting, and as the plot thickens, both of our protagonists become embroiled in plots of intrigue and deception.
I have read previous works of Chris Wooding, and I fell in love with all of them. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is my absolute favorite of any of his works. Wooding is able to breathe life into a now overlooked genre (Gothic fiction), and creates a wonderful alternate reality of Victorian London. The descriptions of the dark, dirty streets of London harkens back to Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or even to the mysterious murders of Jack the Ripper. The imagery in this book is extremely wonderful (especially of the spooky Wych-kin and the mysterious Stitch-Face), and the characters in this book are believable and likeable. I especially love the character of Thaniel, who is such a faceted character and we are able to see so many sides to him as the novel progresses. I am a sucker for Gothic fiction, and as soon as I read the first page, I knew that I was going to enjoy this novel immensely. This book is longer than most of Chris Wooding's works, but it is certainly a work of fiction that should be taken seriously. Its vocabulary and diction is sophisticated enough that it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, even though it is originally written for young adults. All in all, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good Gothic read, or someone looking for a book that's different from most young adult fare.
Thaniel, just seventeen, is a wych-hunter. Together, he and Cathaline--his friend and mentor--track down the fearful creatures that lurk in the Old Quarter of London. It is on one of these hunts that he first encounters Alaizabel Cray. Alaizabel is half-crazed, lovely, and possessed.Whatever dreadful entity has entered her soul has turned her into a strange and unearthly magnet--attracting evil and drawing horrors from every dark corner. Cathaline and Thaniel must discover its cause--and defend humanity at all costs.