Booktalks

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray Booktalk

  • Grades: 9–12

“Readers will get finger cramps from rapidly turning the pages of Wooding’s gripping tale, an excellent melange of horror, suspense, and the gothic...This brilliant effort will appeal to readers of Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funke, and Christopher Pike.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Atmospheric scene-setting and attention to chilling detail.” — Booklist, starred review

Two wych hunters take on the evil of the wych-folk and the power of the Fraternity to save the life of a young girl.

Thaniel Fox was only seventeen, but he was a wych-hunter. It was what he’d been born to do — his father had been the greatest wych-hunter London had ever seen, and Thaniel followed in his footsteps. Wych-hunting had taken much from him, his parents, his childhood, companions, peace. But he had Cathaline, his mentor and now his friend and fellow wych-hunter, his own house, and the astronomical salary Parliament paid him to hunt down and kill the evil-doers. His life might have seemed bleak to some, but he was satisfied with it until the night he met Alaizabel Cray. He was hunting a Cradlejack in the Old Quarter when he found her. She was filthy and she wouldn’t speak. She acted as if she were mad. Thaniel took her home, fed her soup, and watched over her. When she woke from the fever, all she could remember about herself was her name. But there was something odd, something different about her. The next night she woke him up screaming, hysterical, saying that something had tried to get into her room, describing a Draug, one of the Drowned Folk, wyches that were only rarely seen. The charms that Cathaline had drawn around the door to protect Alaizabel had been tampered with, and were useless. And just a few nights later, Thaniel and Cathaline returned from hunting to find Alaizabel in the living room, in spite of the fact that Thaniel had given her a sleeping potion that should have lasted all night. And yet it wasn’t Alaizabel. It was her body, but twisted and humped with age, and her voice was harsh and angry. She called herself Thatch, and talked about the Fraternity, demanding to see their marks. When they refused, she showed them the tattoo on the base of Alaizabel’s spine, an evil, twisted shape with tentacles, like an octopus gone wrong. And then, suddenly, Thatch was gone and Alaizabel was back, unaware of what had just happened or why she was no longer in her bed.

Cathaline had recognized the design on Alaizabel’s back, recognized it, knew what it meant, and knew that she and Thaniel had to do something about it. It was the chackh’morg, the symbol of the Deep Ones, who worship the most powerful of the wych-kin, and work on their behalf to gain more power for themselves. It is tattooed on those meant for possession. A human is poisoned, made weak so the spirit can take possession of the dying body, then the spirit kills the spirit in the body, and takes it over when the antidote to the poison is administered. But Alaizabel didn’t die, and now her body contains not only her own spirit, but Thatch’s as well. And the spirit inside her is like a beacon to all the wych-kin of London, drawing evil to her, and the Fraternity wants that spirit back. If the wych-kin don’t get her, the Fraternity will.

Thaniel knows that Alaizabel is his destiny, his to protect, his to save. And even though Cathaline has made a charm for Alaizabel to wear that makes her invisible to wych-folk, they know she is there somewhere, and they still hunt for her. Will Thaniel and Cathaline be able to protect Alaizabel? Will they be able to free her from Thatch’s evil possession? Step with them into the dark and foggy streets of London’s Old Quarter and find out.

This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart

 

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  • Subjects:
    Halloween
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