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Graveyard Shift (Ministry of Pandemonium #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  206 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
A spooky fantasy-adventure in which death is only the beginning!

When Ben Harvester meets the mysterious Mr. October in London's Highgate Cemetery, he has no idea what a strange and dramatic turn his life is about to take. But Ben soon discovers that Mr. October works for the Ministry of Pandemonium, a secret organization responsible for tracking down lost souls and guiding
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Scholastic Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Hayley
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
The greatest compliment I can pay this book is that I had to continually remind myself that Ministry of Pandemonium was not, in fact, a Neil Gaiman novel. With similar dark and otherworldly themes, characters as vivid and endearing as any Mr Gaiman has produced and a clear style of writing that appears effortless, its impossible not to draw similarities. I enjoyed myself immensely while spending time in Chris Westwood's highly imaginative world and I'll certainly be recommending this as one of t ...more
Chris
A sensitive boy who frequents graveyards. Who sees the spirits of the recently departed. Who displays extraordinary artistic gifts. Who finds it hard to make friends when he starts a new school. And a boy whose father has mysteriously disappeared and a mother who is seriously ill. In other words, a youngster who fulfils many of the prime requirements for the outsider protagonist of a novel. This is Ben Harvester, who is drawn into a world of ghosts and demons and, in the process, discovers the l ...more
Claire
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really enjoyable. American readers would know this book as Graveyard Shift, it's the same book though. I love the way this is written. It's as if the visuals are written into the pages. The first paragraph of chapter 3 is a fantastic example!

Nothing moving. Everything still. The next few days were even hotter and the air felt like a clammy skin. On the bed in my room with the windows open I waited for a breeze that never came. It was like waiting for a miracle, a sign to point me to
...more
Andrea
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ministry of Pandemonium is set in modern day London and revolves around an ordinary 12 year old boy named Ben Harvester with an eye and talent for drawing, observing and a heart for helping. Raised by his single mother, Donna Harvester née Williams, he and his mother struggle to make ends meet. But one day, Ben’s life is turned upside down when he meets a man called Mr. October – a man of many faces, personalities and secrets. He knows Ben has a special gift. A talent more than just drawing, obs ...more
Stephen Barker
An interesting premise for a story... But sadly, disappointed. Too many reworked and borrowed tropes, character stereotypes etc. Editing missed at least a couple of classic mistakes and dropped this to a 2 star for me. Sorry!
Lizzy
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, loved the characters, loved the typewriter, loved the writings generally. Silly ending which spoiled an otherwise brilliant novel.

also, the pages had a really great grey smudge to the edges
Rachael
Similar theme to Dead Like Me tv show but with less humour.
Rebecca
For me the book was okay. It wasn't great but it wasn't bad either. It was just mediocre.

The book had a dark, depressing feel which I guess was kind of the point. The story in itself was fine but I actually found I didn't really care what happened to the characters.

When I got the book out of the library both this and the sequel (The Great and Dangerous) were on the shelf together so I got them both out at the same time.

As it was only a duology and this was it, I decided to read book two and mor
...more
The-vault
By Chris Westwood. Grade B+

Set in London, Ministry Of Pandemonium is just the one of its kind of books that I have read and liked.

Ben Harvester can see what no one else can. . .
A cobbled alleyway – a place where it's always night –
hidden behind a crack in the wall.
Mr October, a man of many faces and secrets, knows Ben
has a unique gift. He sets out to recruit Ben to a top-secret,
highly classified Ministry department – to help in an eternal war
against an unspeakable enemy.
And so Ben begins to unde
...more
Jennifer Rayment
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it


The Good Stuff
•Delightfully dark and funny - written perfectly for boys/girls in middle school
•Intriguing characters - how can you not love Ben, Becky, Mr October and Lu
•Reminded me a little at times of the tv show Dead Like Me (Excellent show btw, go get yourself a copy of it
•Love the unusual and original storyline - very creative
•Honestly this might make an interesting series - not sure if there are plans for it, but it might be interesting
•Very wise commentary about life and death
•Mr October
...more
Belinda
It's set in, actually I don't really know where it's set. I'd forgotten. I just know it's set in Britain. I think it's set in various places around London and such.
It's about a boy who's generally quiet and reserved with the need to help. He's a brilliant artist and really good with noticing details (when drawing), and has a gift.

But, I wanted this review to be short, because quite frankly, there's not much to say about this book.

I don't really know why I liked it. I'm in phase where what I want
...more
Ross Kitson
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adele Broadbent
Spoilers below...

Ben Harvester likes drawing, and much to his mum’s dismay, spends a lot of time in cemeteries drawing the headstones and imagining the people that once were.
One day he meets a man who introduces himself as Mr October. That fact that Ben can see Mr October at all proves he has a gift, besides his extraordinary drawing talent.
Mr October works for the Ministry of Pandemonium and after Ben passes a few more tests, he is recruited to the Ministry.
This organisation is hidden in London
...more
Marsha
Genuinely spooky, original and utterly strange—these words don’t begin to do this story justice. Featuring a rather reluctant hero thrust into a bizarre world that lives (so to speak) juxtaposed with this one, “Graveyard Shift” is that unlikeliest of horror tales. It is one in which the mundane twists with the supernatural, where the dead mingle freely with the living, even though the living are completely unaware of their existence. It is a place where death isn’t necessarily the end.

Enlivening
...more
Jess - The Tales Compendium
Thirteen year old Ben used to be a solitary kid who hung out in cemeteries with his sketchbook. But after his chance meeting with Mr October, he now helps protect the souls of the departed with his new friends Becky - who senses people, Sukie - who is clairvoyant, and Lu - a contortionist, from the Deathheads and the Mawbreed's. For every good guy there is a bad guy and as they travel the streets of London, looking for the next departed soul, they must keep their wits about them. With demons cre ...more
Jenny
Ben can see dead people. I guess that if you hang about in graveyards long enough this is bound to happen. It all starts the day he meets Mr October, a shapeshifting dude who works for the Ministry of Pandemonium, an establishment that helps the newly departed on their way before demons can sling their backsides down to Hell. Why Ben feels compelled to trust, let alone believe this old geezer, is beyond me. But hey, this isn't real life.

Generally speaking this story is well written, though I cou
...more
Rachel
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Harvester is an ordinary kid who gets picked on at school. He has a superb eye for drawing, and his habit of visiting graveyards leads to a meeting with the mysterious Mr. October, and the subsequent introduction to the world of helping the Dead move on to their afterlife (whatever that may be). To this end he joins the Ministry of Pandemonium, an act not taken lightly by the naightmarish folk who work for The Other Side.

I found the book to be a delightful, easy read, though at the beginning
...more
Richard Denney
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Now that was one awesome read!

I can't begin to describe how unique and wonderful this story is without giving spoilers. The story opens with our protagonist Ben Harvester, who meets the eccentric Mr. October in a cemetery. I loved the relationship between Ben and Mr. October because it was reminiscent of John Bellairs's Professor Childermass and Johnny Dixon, an old man and a young boy becoming friends. After Ben and Mr. October meet, they run into each other again, but this time things get a li
...more
Brian
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Ben Harvester is sketching in Highgate Cemetery when he sees an old man apparently in difficulty. Good-natured Ben naturally goes to help. But the feeble old man is much more than he seems. Before he knows what's happening Ben finds himself recruited into the Ministry of Pandemonium, an organisation that exists to help the dead pass on to their next stage and to keep them out of the clutches of demons on the hunt for lost souls.

The style is accessible, there's plenty of humour and there are some
...more
Terrie
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Because of his unusual paranormal gift, Ben Harvester is recruited by Mr. October to work for the Ministry of Pandemonium. His job is to track down and assist lost souls and guide them to the afterlife.

I really liked the way this book was written. It was a smart and intriguing approach to paranormal fantasy. The ending was quite surprising. The Lords of Sundown were a bit overdone. Straight from a child's nightmare, their goal was believable in context, but their form seemed too cartoonish. And
...more
Bookstorequeer
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Andrew
I loved this book! It really pulled me in and I almost found myself trying to read more slowly because I wanted it to last. The writing was great, very smooth and well-paced. The plot was original and the characters were genuine! I like how everything tied itself together and then proceeded to tangle itself into a knot of emotion and talent. It was... It was great.

My only one problem with the book (there might've been two but I'm blanking on the second) was that I found no mention of how old Ben
...more
Charlotte Jones
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think that the plot was intriguing when I read the synopsis and it did not disappoint. For a children's book, I found this compelling and found it difficult to put down. I found the monsters frightening enough to make me want to read on and see what happened.

The characters were my favourite part of this book. The protagonist was interesting and had enough back story to make him a well-rounded character that is impressive for a children's book character. Mr October was a highly mysterious char
...more
Kelly
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Ben Harvester likes to hang out in cemeteries - where he meets the truly strange Mr. October. Eventually Ben finds out that Mr. October helps to escort ghosts to the other side - and that Ben can also see and help out these ghosts.

Overall this was a satisfying and scary read. It is truly difficult to find a good horror book for that kid who just-wants-to-be-scared. This kind of reminded me of how I felt when I read Coraline, with some genuinely off putting and unsettling imagery and characters,
...more
Melissa
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
My 4th grade son bought this book at the school book fair. He did not like it and stopped about page 50. So I picked it up to preview for my 5th grade class. The story premise is an interesting one and would probably appeal to middle school boys. Parts were a bit scary which is why I think my son did not want to continue reading it.

"When Ben Harvester meets the mysterious Mr. October in London's Highgate Cemetery, he has no idea what a strange and dramatic turn his life is about to take. But Ben
...more
Phoebe
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Deborah, Cheryl
Ben's life is in upheaval with a new flat, a new school, no money, and then a mysterious encounter with an elderly man in the cemetery. Little does he know that he has a special talent that will result in his recruitment into the Ministry of Pandemonium and that all of his courage will be required to face his new job. This spooky, action-filled chapter book is interesting and well-written enough to hold the reader captive and to wish for a sequel. Similarities to Harry Potter, Eva Ibbotson, and ...more
Lorraine Orman
I've read a huge number of fantasy and paranormal books for children and teens (I'm an author and reviewer of children's books)but these days I'm looking out for fresh and innovative themes. This book ticks all the standard boxes (well written, should appeal to young readers), but I've already come across the theme of a character discovering his or her destiny is to help people pass from life to death. However young readers who like a solitary, slightly alienated hero and relish the idea of a lo ...more
Lia Marcoux
Jul 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Two notes:

1. There is one character of Chinese descent, and she's a former contortionist and rickshaw driver whose father lost their apothecary shop in a game of mah jong. So basically, she's Chinese Chinese Chinese Chinese. That's it for her character development. She has maybe two spoken lines?

2. The crucial, climactic action is FILING.

Also problems with pacing, bad guy development, etc. One star seems about right.
Bookstorequeer
I didn't dive into this one as quickly on the re-read as I think I did on my first go. It was a slower start this time but, despite the fact that I could remember some of the penultimate scene, I definitely didn't remember all of it and I'm glad for that, because it was satisfying all over again. Now for the next one...
Amy Seraphina
for some reason I was rushing through this book. It was good - just the kind of book I like, but I could feel the pull of it being a children's book with some of the themes and motives behind things. But maybe i didnt connect with the book as I would have liked. Ive been rushing all my reading lately and I dont know why
natercopia
There were some ideas in this book that I like, particularly about Mr October's 'world'. Felt that the 'telling' about how people die was overwhelming. Not overwhelming as in too much explaining on one soul but instead there were too many souls described when they went around to collect. Fast paced, believable and slightly 'dark', this book is not a bad read.
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Westwood, the son of a coal miner and a school teacher, decided on his writing career at age 11. Despite being Yorkshire born & bred, Westwood does live part of the time in East London. His first published writing was for the London music paper Record Mirror, where he worked as a staff reporter for three years.
His career mixes journalism and fiction.
More about Chris Westwood

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