The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

October 1, 2009
By , Plano, TX
Chris Wooding’s award-winning The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is dark, suspenseful, and thrilling all at the same time. The novel started out very fast-paced, and Wooding was successfully able to captivate my attention and thoughts throughout the whole novel. The plot is very complex involving many subplots, yet it is undeniably good. Wooding is able to tie in all the various parts of the story with his unique plot, characters, and style.

It’s a dangerous thing to do; to live in the city of Old Quarter, London. There are “cradlejacks, ju-jus, angel stones, stormwardens, will-o’-the-wisps, dust witches, a million of them and more” (Wooding 249). The wych-kins are out by night hunting for humans. They will scratch and bite to try to turn you into one of them; once you do, there is no cure. It’s up to wych-hunters like Thaniel and Cathaline to bring them down before they bring you down. But the wych-kins are particularly interested in one girl named Alaizabel Cray. She possesses a key within her that may potentially bring an end to all of human-kind. Thaniel and Cathaline will have to figure out what’s happening and why it’s happening in order to save humanity.

Wooding encompasses many significant themes in the novel. It was hard for me at first to imagine real-life lessons included in such a sci-fi and fictional story; however, I soon realized that it wasn’t at all difficult. Wooding gives Thaniel the biggest role in the novel. Thaniel, being a wych-hunter and all, does not have many friends. All he used have was his father, but “his father [is] gone now”(Wooding 21). Then he turned to Cathaline, who was more like a mentor to him in replacement of his father rather than a good friend. “Thaniel was alone”(Wooding 21), and Wooding is very quick to inform the reader about that. Wooding uses this piece of information to his advantage when he creates a relationship between Thaniel and Alaizabel.

Wooding’s writing style and his way of structuring the novel was very unique. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray had various subplots within the main plot. Wooding is able to masterfully tie in all the different subplots together towards the end. One thing I loved about his structure was how he introduced and gave insights on even the characters with minor roles. It seemed necessary for Wooding to kill off many minor characters in the novel to make it more suspenseful; however, I especially liked the fact that Wooding did not write these in just a few simple paragraphs. He used paragraph after paragraph to give the background information, and in one instance, he actually used a whole chapter in order to add on to the story. He uses very vivid and descriptive words when describing his characters. An example is when Wooding describes Cathaline as “neither pretty nor ugly, [but] nevertheless infused with an inner radiance that lit her features from within and made them mesmerizing to watch” (Wooding 13). His diction also adds to the eeriness of the story. He repetitively uses words like “death”, “darkness” and “lost”, and these words also aid in setting the dark mood and tone throughout the novel.

Chris Wooding is an author of many other award-winning novels including Crashing, Kerosene, and Poison. He lives in London, and due to that fact it has become common for him to make London as the setting in many of his novels. He was only sixteen when he started writing his first book, and very much influenced by other gothic writers. Wooding was able to combine his own elements along with the techniques that he’s learned from other writers to make brilliantly written novels.

In a world unlike my own, full of wyches, a deadly serial killer, and a group of people wanting to take over the world, it’s almost hard not to derive a good, exhilarating story from it. If suspense, thrillers, or maybe even romance is what you’re searching for, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is a novel you will not want to miss out on!

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