The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt

The Feathered ManI must advise you right at the start to beware this book. It’s a scary little devil that must be approached with extreme caution. Now I have forewarned you, it’s only fair to say you have to read it. This is tip-top horror for older children upwards.

In Germany, in days gone by, Klaus ekes a miserable living as a tooth-puller’s boy. It’s an unenviable job, but marginally better than living on the streets. His main task is to stand outside the tooth shop banging loudly on a drum whilst his master pulls rotten teeth from the mouths of his clients. He also gets to wash away the blood from the floor. As I said, marginally better than begging on the street. His master is the brutal Kusselmann, a repulsive man without any discernible positive qualities. He makes, as well as pulls, teeth – crafting new sets for those that can afford them. He takes teeth from the dead and the living. There’s money in teeth.

One particular corpse presents more financial  reward than usual. On a routine visit to foul Frau Drecht’s boarding house a very fine set of teeth present themselves for Kusselmann’s inspection. Too fine as it happens. They are coated in plaster, which just chips away under the pliers. But underneath is some serious treasure. This man’s teeth are solid gold, and right at the back is a huge diamond. In his greed Kusselmann tries to hoodwink Frau Drecht, setting off a series of terrible events. Poor Klaus is dragged unwillingly right into the heart of the danger.

Drecht isn’t the only person interested in these particular teeth. A sinister priest is hot on the trail, along with a stranger from the Americas and his dirty, malevolent monkey. The university anatomy department, headed by the ruthless Professor Karolus, are also taking an unhealthy interest. There’s not a trustworthy one amongst them. The only piece of luck Klaus has is the sympathy of the downtrodden maid from Frau Drecht’s. Liesel is as put upon as Klaus, as badly treated and also in fear of her life. Two poor orphans don’t stand much of a chance against this bad bunch.

The diamond itself is not much of a consolation prize for Klaus either. It gives him a strange sense of foreboding, not to mention some very intense hallucinations. It has everyone in its thrall, as a macabre chase after it begins. Oh, and there’s a blue feather. Be thankful you don’t yet know where that came from.

The Feathered Man is supremely creepy, scary, dark and sinister. The pace doesn’t let up for a moment, and the situation Klaus finds himself in just gets more awful. It’s a book to give you nightmares, but in that very satisfying way that horror stories have. It is compulsive reading, but don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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