Potkin and Stubbs: The Haunting of Peligan City Sophie Green -illustrations by Karl J Mountford

The original Potkin and Stubbs was fantastically atmospheric with its petrichor, fake news and dastardly deeds and the sequel The Haunting of Peligan City picks up a little later, in the winter with flavours of biting snow, revenge and despair.

I loved the film neo-noir feel, the black and white hard boiled and jaded detective in peril on the cusp of the truth swing of the original that carries over into this, but wonderfully it is rooted firmly in Middle Grade with the paranormal twist and the most perfect partnership in illustrator Karl J Mountford throughout.

Lil and Nedley have been waiting, Cornelius Gallows is still on the loose and the new mayor seems to be big on ‘cleaning up the streets’ but none of the changes actually benefiting the people of Peligan City.

We discover the events of the first book were merely an trial run and Gallows has been building an army of ghosts to unleash a war upon those who control Peligan City to bend it to his will.

‘They broke the story, the biggest one there’s ever been. I had that story and I sat on it.’

This is a book of revelations, whilst Lil was tapping at the edges of conspiracy and secrets in book one, there are some earth shattering truths that come in this book. without spoilers they are ones that shock her to her very core and cause a LOT of resentment and she struggles to handle the situation.

I like this about Lil, she acts not as a ‘role model’ for coping with change, she acts like the majority of children would in a situation that destabilises everything they understand. She is angry, she is hurt and children who feel that way can be irrational and spiteful in their distress. The reader resonates with her pain and her reactions pull us deeper into the story.

Lil was sure her dreams were lined up to become a reality; behind the aroma of exhaust fumes and rubbish bins that hung in every street, she could sense a story lurking.

The brooding tension from trying to work out the master plan and the unseen terror of the controlled ghosts is potent. The whole feel of Potkins and Stubbs really taps into that Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Dark Knight style of a darker, sombre Gotham, grimy with corruption and tainted with dark deeds by terrible twisted people in the shadows.

The tension across the narrative has increased, but so has the stakes with not just more lives on the line, but Nedly’s existence as thanks to high profile hauntings a heightened paranoia has infused the public at any chilling feeling.

The question is not does but CAN Nedly have a place in such a world?

A fantastically atmospheric and imaginative series with The Haunting Of Peligan City dialing up the peril and the frighteners to create a fantastic follow up and leaves me aching to read what happens next, but saddened too as it apparently will wrap up this story and world that I just want to return to again and again.

Potkins and Stubbs: The Haunting of Peligan City by Sophie Green is published by Piccadilly Press

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