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Ghouls, wraiths and a werewolf

Deepika Sarma
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Title: Undead Ed and the Howling Moon

Author: David Grimstone

Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

Pages: 209

Undead Ed is an instant attention-grabber with its promise of gore, rotting flesh and a well-chosen blurb on the jacket of this children's book: “Forget everything you've ever seen or heard about werewolves, zombies and vampires because Ed Bagley's going to tell you the single most important fact you'll ever learn: Being Undead Sucks...especially if you're kid.”

Deadly riot

Ed Bagley — 13-years-old, accident-prone and not particularly cool — lives in the English town of Mortlake, a depressing place where “the dead run riot” and dies a gory death after he is hit by a truck.

Trying to keep things together (literally: having joined the ranks of the undead, he now has to deal with decaying flesh and a left arm that detaches itself from his body and makes off in haste), Ed has to come to terms with the fact that he is now a zombie. He finds a note from his left arm, threatening to kill him if it ever comes across him again.

Strange pals

Bewildered, Ed stumbles through Mortlake escaping ghouls, wraiths and other malevolent creatures even as he makes strange but loyal friends along the way in the form of werewolf Max Moon, his “assigned DB (Dead Buddy)”, and Jemini Yaddle, a morose vampire prone to severe mood swings.

Ed's running commentary through the book is hilarious and horribly, even delightfully, gross.

The abundance of blood, green ooze and pus is oddly entertaining and the pencil illustrations by Nigel Baines are funny and endearing, made to look as if they were done by a child. The crazy characters work well together (watch out for Forgoth the Damned, a little boy with his sinister-looking teddy bear, Mumps), and the theme of learning to be comfortable with oneself is woven into the story with subtlety.

‘Possessed'

However, Ed's demonic left hand is a supreme let-down.

It emerges that the hand has been possessed by Kambo Cheapteeth, an evil clown, whose characterisation and painful accent are downright tacky.

The actual plot of the book is rather weak, and ultimately the book's undoing.

Deepika Sarma

‘His left arm detaches itself from his body and makes off in haste'