Kill Fish Jones, by Caro King

I very much enjoyed Seven Sorcerers, and its sequel, Shadow Spell, by Caro King, and so last Christmas I asked for another of her books, Kill Fish Jones (Quercus, 2011, UK).   I liked it lots too.

Kill Fish Jones is the story of a death bed curse placed by a long dead, nasty man named Lampwick--a curse that requires horrible things to happen to "anyone who bothered him."  Which includes bothering his remains.   Now Lampwick lingers in Limbo, until his curse runs its course (which is to say, until his remains are crumbled into dust), and tied to him is an insignificant demon named Grimshaw, whose job is to kill any botherers.    Work was brisk at the beginning, then slowed as those who had bothered Lampwick in life were disposed of.   But now a new construction project has bothered Lampwick's resting place...and every living person involved in this disturbance is now on Grimshaw's list.

Including a kid named Fish Jones, and his mother.

Fish Jones has a unique gift--he can see Grimshaw at work.  But that might not be enough to save himself and his mother.  When his mother ends up hospitalized, in danger of death (thanks to Grimshaw) Fish tries to hide while he can figure out some sort of plan...any plan...while narrowly escaping Grimshaw's deadly machinations (adding a nice bit of "desperate kid surviving without adults," always a favorite plot line of mine).

But in the meantime Grimshaw is changing.  He is growing conflicted--will he attempt to invoke the Might Curse, and end Fish once and for all (along with the whole world)?  Or will he stumble on some way to escape his own destiny...no longer serving as a killing machine enslaved to a nasty master....

And this fascinating tension in Grimshaw's character makes this an even more gripping, memorable book than the ordinary grippingness of Fish's danger would alone.   The reader is challenged to empathise with a demon who has killed innocent people...and King makes it possible to do so.  Grimshaw is now my second favorite demon (Bartimaeus still takes first place...).

It's a fast, tension-filled story, excellent for those who like a psychological twist to their Middle Grade fantasy.   The zest King brings to the interactions of the various characters--dead, alive, and demonic--makes it not as grim as it might seem, though I wouldn't give this one to anyone currently touched by tragedy themselves. 


  1. This sounds absolutely awesome. I'm gonna have to track down a copy.

  2. I really love the sound of this book.
    Unfortunately I can't find it at my local library.
    Probably an US problem. :(
    Ah well. At least I have it on my list just in case.


  3. yeah, it's not around over here in the US. But it's pretty cheap through Amazon...


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