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(The Mortlock Books)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, the brother an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave.
Hardcover, 375 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury UK
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3.74  · 
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 ·  483 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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As an avid reader of gothic fiction, I was wary of Mortlock from the cover (as a bookseller, I shouldn’t be judging a book by the cover, I know, I know, but I’m only human!). A decayed hand thrust up forth from its grave, an unnaturally sized crow looming forth under the book’s title. One can easily guess the genre from a quick glimpse however, the story itself is prime and well-told. Mayhew uses well-woven threads of mystery and intrigue to form a terrific plot and back-story. Using themes of V ...more
Caroline Victoria Murphy (CazzReadsYA)
This book is generally aimed at people younger than me, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I read this as part of my Halloween book challenge, and it sent chills through my spine more than once. All the characters are well developed, especially the two main characters: twins Josie and Alfie. At the beginning of the book we are introduced to Mortlock who is the character mentioned on the cover, and two of his friends Chrimes and Corvis. They are searching for a flower called an Amarant, bu ...more
Charlotte Danby
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't usually read this type of book, but I found it in the back of my cupboard and I thought I should give it a try. After reading the prologue I didn't think I was going to enjoy it, but I carried on and it was surprisingly quite good. It only took me a few days to read it all (I'm a slow reader, 2 days is good for me). It had some very cliché parts, but overall the plot and the whole book was good
Polly Clarke
Ghoulish, gory and grim - a delightful mix of the macabre! This book made me squirm more than a few occasions it was so brilliantly written. Wonderful Halloween reading choice. A favourite!
Scott Roberts
Excellent story plot and book cover. I give this book 5 stars.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastically imagined horror set in the Victorian era following the story of orphaned twins Josie and Alfie as they try to uncover the mystery of a secret connected to their past, that has been passed on to them in in a note by Josie's dying guardian. A really great atmospheric chiller which is heavy on the gore for a kid’s book. And why not? Although it’s billed as a trilogy these historical horror novels can happily be read as standalone novels as the further books head into demon and djinns ...more
Livia [ Livvy ]
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this!!! (really gloomy tho)
Lyndsey O'Halloran
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I truly felt that when I decided to start reading this book that I would hate it. Something about the cover/ description just didn’t appeal to me but I definitely wanted to give it a shot. The cover is a very evil green colour with a hand reaching out from the ground as well as black claws coming down from the top. Straight away, you know this book has an eerie feel to it and the black edged pages helped to add to that feeling.

Jon Mayhew’s website ( state
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I decided to read this book because i found this book on the shelf of the library and the cover was irresistable. So i picked it up and started reading the Prologue. I was entregied about the starting and it hookedd me in. This book was a thriller.

The category it fits is " A female main character" The reason why it fits this category is because the main character is Josie who is a female. Hahahahah. I liked reading this genre because in most books that i have read there always has been a male ma
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Reading this one for school. I has arrived but has the phrase "Death is not the end" so checking to see whether or not this is suitable for a KS2 reading book...

The blurb:

Josie is a knife thrower in the magician's stage act. Alfie is an undertaker's assistant.

They are both orphans and they have never met, but they are about to be given a clue to the secret of a shared past.

A past which has come back to seek them out.

And while they flee for their lives, they must unravel the burning mysteries su
Amy Stagles
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I had the honour of being handed a copy of this book of the author himself. I was fascinated by the characters from the beginning and I was instantly hooked. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't stop until I had finished. It is one of those that when it is over, you struggle to come to terms with the fact that that is it for that story, the plot has come to a close.

This book is a serious MUST READ for anyone who likes adventure, mystery and a sense of danger. I have to admit that even t
Alexandra (ModernAlexandrian)
Though just 13 years old - Josie and Alfie go through hell and back, caught up in the whirlwind of their guardians past of darkness and power.

I had a lot of fun reading this. Josie is bright and snappy, while Alfie is calm and reasoning - together they make a great team.
Horribly gruesome at times as the Aunts are just down right creepy - the bad guys (while somewhat predictable) are nasty - but I would've liked to have seen more from them.

The title refers to one of the explorers in the prologue
This book has many twists and confusing plots that keeps you entertained however the book often changes pace making it interesting at one point and dull at another.

Josie is a teenage girl living with her alcoholic guardian Cardamon, but when three strange ladies (The Aunts) appear at her door and kill Cardamon his dying wish being that she finds her brother. When she finds her twin Alfie together they embark on a mystery journey to find and destroy the amarant which is cursing their lives. Toget
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! It was beautifully written! The characters were great and I just couldn't put it down. It was so interesting and the ending was simply stunning and so unexpected. I can't find anything bad to say about this book. I really loved it.

Its about 2 twins, a girl called Josie and a boy called Alfie who were seperated and raised by different people. Josie's guardian, the great magician Cardamom leaves her a note when he dies since her life will be in danger. He is a good character bu
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A totally stunning debut novel.
Three explorers discover an exotic flower and let loose a curse.
Many years later, orphans Josie and Alfie find themselves fleeing for their lives as terrifying events overtake them. To save themselves - from suspicious relatives, dangerous strangers and supernatural flocks of birds - they must confront the secrets of their past.
A wonderful book. Riveting read,full of suspense, excitement and gore from page one. Maybe not for the slightly squeamish reader. Defini
Samantha-Ellen Bound
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a story of adventure and terror, Mortlock ultimately succeeds. It feels and reads like what it should – a tale of gothic horror. Atmosphere pervades the big set-pieces, like the dank city streets when Josie and Alfie get chased by ghuls; the soggy, swampy marshlands home to Lorenzo’s circus; or the interior of the crow-infested Lord Corvis’ mansion. Darkly entertaining and great fun.

Full review at:
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robyn Webb
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
If I'd read this book a little bit earlier in my life I think I would have given it 5 stars. I loved the storyline, the characters and the description but it was a bit too easy a read. I would definitely recommend it, perhaps to a younger audience though.
Steven Davis
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
My opinion on this varied as I went through it, but it's an easy/good read. It seemed like, towards the end, it would emerge as the first of a three-piece, but it resolved itself in one. A good level of detail; only slightly limited by being aimed at children.
Alexander Lightwood
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A casual read . It's a children's book that I realised after going through it . Nevertheless it was a nice light read
Possibly the best part of this book is the complacent acceptance of supernatural elements that the characters exhibit. They are freaked out but only as much as they would be freaked out by a tree branch going through a window of their house. There is magic, long-life elixir (sorta), dead people walking, nasty human-like carrion birds....all the standard tropes of YA adventure of late. Not bad.

I admit, I really bought it for the cover, though.
Morgan Venn
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it

‘Immortal Amarant, A flower which once in paradise, fast by the tree of life began to bloom but soon for man’s offence. To heaven removed where first it grew, there grows, and flowers aloft shading the fount of life.‘ - Paradise Lost, John Milton

Mortlock is an interesting story of illusions and dark magic. It has a stunning story line and well described situations. The story is in the perspective of the third person, and although the book can confuse, it will not disappoint creative mind
Arkham Reviews
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-on-blog
I find it really hard to give a rating to Mortlock as I'm torn to whether or not I liked this novel.

On the one hand, it's fantastically atmospheric. The story paints a grim vision of Victorian London and the story's strong Gothic elements make it very eerie. It also has a surprisingly complex plot, containing many twists and threads which all come together neatly over the final act.

However, the story is incredibly slow moving times. After the exciting opening chapters, the novel began to lose my
SJH (A Dream of Books)
When 'Mortlock' arrived in the post I really wasn't quite sure what to expect. The only thing I knew about it was that the book had been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2011. I didn't have any preconceived notions or judgements about it which makes it nice when you pick up a new book.

Josie is a knife-thrower in a circus, accompanying The Great Cardamom, who is more like an honorary uncle to her. She's always believed that she was an only child until she discovers her orphan
Jan 14, 2011 rated it liked it
This is one creepy book and while it was good it really wasn't for me as it was a bit too creepy and gory.

The novel is set in Victorian London and follows the story of orphaned twins Josie and Alfie as they try to uncover the mystery of a secret connected to their past, that has been passed on to them in in a note by Josie's dying guardian.

The story starts off at break neck pace and keeps it up throughout with engaging twists and turns. Despite being totally freaked out at some of the passages (
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book since had so much suspense. I really enjoyed how the author made great descriptive words for some of the characters. I greatly enjoyed it.
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was pure genius. I do love the pace of the book. The events seem to speeding so far ahead, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, the only problem I have is that it was almost as though the answer was right in front of them all this time, but they decided to go a completely different way, then, in the end, come back the way they came to find out it was literally right next door. Very strange, but effective, technique used by Jon Mayhew. However, the plot = GENIUS!
Bungle Midnight Reads
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was ok

So!!!!!!! Alot of the Waterstone's readers really liked this book but I didn't think it was that great! I loved loved loved Alfie and I loved the wickedness of the aunts but that was about it!
The 'battle' at the end was a little limp and disappointing!! It doesn't matter who Mortlock turns out to be the end battle should have been soooooooo much better!
Dawn Finch
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow, rollercoaster!! I tried to think of a way of reviewing this without blowing my favourite bits but it's just not possible so just read it. It's absolutely gripping and at times leaves the reader quite breathless. Enviable mastery of pace here and a stunning first novel.
Miss Clark
Aug 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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I live on the Wirral Peninsula with my wife and four children. We have a whole menagerie of dogs and cats and chickens and tortoises. My house overlooks the forbidding marshes of the Dee Estuary which is great for wildlife, spooky mists and wet feet.

I love writing but also enjoy running and playing the mandolin. Running is great because it keeps me fit and I can eat as many chips as I like without

Other books in the series

The Mortlock Books (3 books)
  • The Demon Collector
  • The Bonehill Curse
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