Sam Enthoven is a British author writes horror thrillers for the Young Adult market. I first became aware of him when I read his book The Black Tattoo, a martial arts adventure that spiraled out of control and into the very depths of Hell.
In his 2010 novel Crawlers, two school excursions to the theatre are disrupted by mind-controlling parasites. It turns out that the London City Council has been keeping their Queen prisoner in the theatre basement, and now she wants out and presumably to dominate the world. Enthoven gets points for making a city council so sinister. He also gets points for including themes of class and race in a supernatural thriller, as one school group comes from a posh school and the other doesn’t. There’s also an interesting literary gimmick, with most of the novel being narrated in third person, except the bits that are told directly by the monstrous Queen. The big implication is that the Queen’s parasites are allowing her know exactly what is going on.
Crawlers had good characterisation. The characters were recognizable types that slotted into the familiar High School hierarchy. You’ve got the smug athlete, his bullying sidekick, the unlikeable outcast who tries to ingratiate himself into the in-crowd, and the sneering misfit who thinks he’s above it all. There as also a bit of romance, although thankfully it didn’t dominate the story.
This book was also fairly specific about its locations. Well, one location anyway. The theatre in question is the Barbican Theatre, which I totally hadn’t heard of until I googled the name. Looks like a nice enough place. Kids who’ve read this book can visit the Barbican and think ‘A monstrous Queen lives here, what fun!’ And that sort of thing really is fun, so more points for Enthoven.
This novel could have done with some more copy-editing. There were too many colons and semicolons, and these slightly esoteric marks could alienate young adult readers. They certainly bothered me.
This was an enjoyable book, but if you’re starting out with Sam Enthoven you should really read The Black Tattoo first.