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The Oversight
Charlie Fletcher

Orbit (Little, Brown)
6 May 2014/ ISBN 9780356502892

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


The Oversight is the name for a secret organisation whose task it is to guard the borders between our world and the unseen one and uphold the law. Until a few years earlier there were many, but since a disaster sent many to their doom now there are only five left, a unit known as a Hand. There are those who wish the Oversight to number even less than that, and it is to this end that a screaming girl is delivered to the house of one of the members. Taken in she is soon finding herself being treated better than she has even been before, but there is a reason for her introduction: the destruction of the Oversight.

This is a very enjoyable book packed full of ideas and hopefully the start of a series. It starts off exciting and does not let up until the last page. Between those two extremes lie adventures indeed, and the sign of a powerful imagination at work. There are no anti-heroes in here; everybody is either a good sort you would like to meet or a most hissable villain. Perhaps this does not sound like the best set of characters, but they are just the sort that fit into a historical fantasy like this. Set in the 1840s, this is what you might have gotten if Dickens wanted to write a fantastical thriller peopled by the denizens of folklore. Mirrors that act as portals, lawyers who see themselves as witchfinders, a sinister lord, a travelling show and a cooking pirate are among the delights in this very readable book. The author has a great storyteller style that makes pages turn like magic as the reader is entertained by a series of wonderful adventures. Very highly recommended.

Oversight [audio review]

Reviewed 2014