Potkin and Stubbs has come to an end, it feels like too soon for I have loved this series so much but each part of the trilogy is utter perfection no more no less bringing us to an ending that is so very brilliant.
This book takes a perilous turn as Ned is on the run from the Ghostcatchers who seem to have more than luck and tip offs on their side bringing us to a stand off, there can be only one to come out of this whole thing, alive or dead.
After the events of the Doll Factory Fire Nedly has been on the run, unwelcome everywhere he goes as the city is hyped to panic with constant articles in the city propaganda newspaper about The Final Ghost.
Lil is doing her best trying to distract and get Ned out before the Ghostcatchers descend but then circle is getting tighter and tighter and it feels there is no way out before Ned shall be caught… and so she sets a plan.
I’m a huge fan of this series with its cinematic evocation of a grimy tired city corrupt with crime and fuelled by misery and corruption. The rain soaked streets sigh with desperation and the neon lights of nighttime businesses flicker with false hopes and the gutters strewn with broken promises.
Inspired by the film noir genre these books take the tropes of the eager young ingenue, the battered and embittered former detective turned PI, investigating dark crimes, in this case that turn out to have a supernatural twist because our Third man 😏 is a young boy killed in an experiment by the villain, only visible by Lil and slowly learning powers of moving objects and manipulating electricity.
The Ghostcatcher team have certain allusions to being the ‘Anti ghostbusters’ with their Van, shrugging on packs of ghost catching equipment and a nod with EGON the ghost detecting machine that could spell the end for Nedly in Peligan City.
This is a rather playful nod to the cult film series but the real focus despite the title is on the dynamic between Lil and Nedly.
As Lil uses all the powers and information at her disposal through the Klaxon and Abe to protect Nedly and keep one step ahead of the curve but it seems the net is closing round ever quicker and ever tighter.
Lil puts on a brave face but it is clear the increasingly likely proposition of life without Nedly whether by being caught or fleeing the city is tearing up her heart.
She stared out of the window at the glow of the city centre as it came into view, like a single ember burning in a pit of black ash
I can’t say much about the last third of the book without spoilers that are so GOOD you DESERVE to learn them by reading the books but OH MY GOODNESS I cant believe how I’ve read the previous two books and missed out all the clues and layering that lead us to this epic finale!!
I’m not going to lie throughout the book i was trembling for certain characters as Sophie manages to make the reader forget the usual expectations of middle grade as we’ve already dealt with murderers, arsonists and crazy scientists but NEVER ever imagined such a brilliant twist ending that so perfectly fits the plot and narrative!!!
That skill to make me genuinely worry for a middle grade character and especially to shock me is a credit to Sophie Green’s ability as a writer before we even get to the relationships we have forged with the characters over the trilogy.
Karl J Mountford’s illustrations as always are brilliant and create impact on the page in their signature recognisable style with a hint of Art Deco cinema and a dash of a moody graphic novel helping orientate and navigate Potkin and Stubbs’ world and often foreshadow and echo themes across the novels.
Overall, this is a series that has devastated me to finish in bidding farewell to beloved characters in an incredibly creative world but is so very special and clever and unique in children’s writing, I hope to see more of Sophie Green.
Potkin and Stubbs: Ghostcatcher by Sophie Green and illustrated by Karl J Mountford is published by Piccadilly Books.