‘Twelve Minutes to Midnight’ – Christopher Edge

Orphaned Penelope Tredwell has taken on the mantle of publishing the magazine, The Penny Dreadful, after the death of her father. It’s 1899 so, as a young girl, she is expected to act with a certain decorum – which is at odds with her fascination with the macabre. Though she has raised circulation of the periodical by writing under the pseudonym of Montgomery Filch it is a time where nobody could believe a young girl would be capable of such writing, so Penelope is forced to pay a jobbing actor to pretend to be the writer in a bid to boost publicity.

A letter is sent to Mr Filch by a doctor at the notorious Bedlam asylum. Upon investigation Penelope learns that at precisely twelve minutes to midnight the inmates of Bedlam rise out of their beds and start feverishly scribbling what seem like nonsensical words and ideas on anything they can lay their hands on. Caught up in this real-life adventure, Penelope learns that these scribblings are being engineered, as someone is determined to use these visions as a way of predicting the future.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and we are plunged into a crazy world. Edge creates an authentic setting, and his style of writing is entertaining. I loved the range of vocabulary and literary skill evident here. Though this is targeted at upper primary/lower secondary age students, it is definitely one for more confident readers Рbut if you like Lemony Snicket then this should be right up your street.