Curse of the Mudchalk Devil – Phil Lanzon

Elin is a young girl who discovers she can see music. She reveals this to her father, an illusionist, who creates a machine to show the Visible Music to his audience. After an unfortunate accident Elin’s life is turned upside down whilst she is still trying to deal with the fact that an old fable about the Mudchalk Devil may become very real, very soon. Pegasus Publishers were very generous to send me this book to review for free.

This started off as a very promising story, I was interested to find out where the father/daughter relationship would lead us with the fable regarding where the good and evil in humans come from which I thought was very original. The pacing was slow to begin with and I struggled to keep turning pages, especially when the narrative seemed to jump forward without explanation and it took me a couple of lines to realise we’d skipped over an undisclosed amount of time. Development of the fantasy was most of the reason I carried on reading but when it didn’t progress as much as I’d like I started to lag, found a reading slump that seemed difficult to get out of.

Differences between the character dialect was not as defined as it could have been. The conversations between Elin and her father were, although entertaining, difficult to distinguish for the two characters. In the first few chapters we have a 12-year-old and her (I assume) middle-aged father, I often found myself following the conversation in the opposite way, when the father was talking I thought it was Elin, and vice-versa. Elin’s dialect wasn’t what I would have expected for a 12-year-old at this point and it was difficult to look past that, she didn’t feel like a genuine character.

The introduction of Charlie Stewart seemed to establish a stronger base for Elin as a character and he did behave and speak as I expected. I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision but with the two ‘tweens’ exchanging they seemed to level out to normal dialect for their age. The interactions between Elin and her father may have been affected by the fact it needed to be a more ‘grown-up’ conversation, with Charlie and Elin it flowed nicely between them.

Regretfully I didn’t find myself enjoying this, the blurb sounded really interesting so I was excited to read through the book. It started off strong but it went downhill for me and I couldn’t find myself getting engaged with the story. The idea is great but the execution needed tweaking, it didn’t come across clearly what was happening on each page so I struggled to actually establish what was happening. I would have liked to see a clear definition of the plot, there seemed to be aspects where Lanzon relies on our imagination to fill in the gaps but there wasn’t enough information for me to begin with.

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