And Then I Read: THE COCKATRICE BOYS by Joan Aiken

CockatriceBoys

© Estate of Joan Aiken, cover art by Jason Van Hollander.

England is at war, under siege from all kinds of monsters. A wide variety of monsters that were once thought to be mythical, but have suddenly appeared all over Great Britain, terrorizing and killing civilians and soldiers alike until the remaining populace has to hide underground in shelters and tunnels, venturing out as little as possible. To fight this menace, an elite group of soldiers has been trained and armed with special weapons, and given a highly modified train to travel in. Dakin Prestwich is really too young to be with them, but gets taken in anyway, along with a girl, Sauna. Both Dakin and Sauna have some special connections to the monster plague, and that puts them in even greater danger than they expected.

This is a stand-alone novel by Aiken, and in my opinion not one of her better ones. She doesn’t seem to take the monsters and the battles very seriously, so as a reader I didn’t either. The characters grew on me, and about halfway through the book, when things turn very dark for Dakin and Sauna, the author seemed to perk up and write better, as if getting down to a few characters in trouble made it more interesting for her. Because of that I’m happy I finished the book, but can only mildly recommend it.

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