As they went, hand in hand, the bell-like chimes washed over Alex like waves in her wake. Staring at the small black head bobbing along in front of him, he felt himself relax. The golden Paris night was vibrating, warm and very beautiful. He tried to remember why he was in Paris and why he was worried, but then he remembered that it didn’t matter. Reflecting off the snow, the streetlights were the same colour as the shining sound of little brass cymbals and all the people were busy and happy. Just ahead, a dozen or so young men and women came spilling softly from a cinema and launched into a snowball fight, laughter playing like a melody on the vast shaking beat that filled his mind.
“Not far now, little Alexander,” the girl said. “Then you can have a nice long sleepy-bye.”
“Not far now,” he echoed. He lifted his head to the sky. Beyond the haze of city lights, dim stars winked in blackness.
“Not far,” he whispered again.
The snowball that hit him was the perfect kind – the kind that’s solid enough to fly fast and straight and yet, when it smacks you in the face, breaks apart in a dusty explosion of frost.
The shock brought Alex back to himself instantly. Staggering and snorting, half of it up his nose, he was vaguely aware of a French girl shouting “Pardon!” through giggles off to his left. Most of his attention, however, was taken up with his sheer horror at what he was doing.
“Oh, that’s a shame,” the small girl said, pouting a mock sympathetic frown.
She tightened her grip with alarming strength, little fingers crushing his. For several seconds they stood arm-wrestling like that, until, with a desperate heave, Alex managed to rip free.
Then he was moving.
“Run, then, dreary rabbit,” she called.
He went dodging between grumbling bodies, barely seeing where he was going. He could sense her not far behind. She ran with ease, holding her coat above her ankles, dodging blackly among pedestrians like a small dancing storm cloud. The crush of people on the pavement made the going slow and when he saw a narrow alleyway looming ahead, he tore into it. He was halfway along before he realised he had picked a dead end. The way ahead lay blocked by a blank wall twenty feet high.
Overflowing bins lined the walls on either side. Alex threw himself down to his left, crawling between bins and foul-smelling plastic bags. Pressing into the dingy dampness, he peered back, trying to lie still and hold his shredded breath.
He saw her framed motionless in the alley’s mouth, the bright busy street behind her looking as distant as another world. Slowly, she came walking in his direction, then stopped. – an extract from Monstrous Devices by Damien Love.
So what is this adventure that awaits our young readers?
Monstrous Devices (Book One)
When twelve-year-old Alex receives an old tin robot in the post, the note from his grandfather simply reads: ‘This one is special’. But as strange events start occurring around him, it doesn’t take Alex long to suspect that the small toy is more than special; it might also be deadly.
Just as things are getting out of hand, Alex’s grandfather arrives, whisking him away from his otherwise humdrum life and into a world of strange, macabre magic. From Paris to Prague, they flee across snowy Europe in a quest to unravel the riddle of the little robot, and outwit relentless assassins of the human and mechanical kind. How does Alex’s grandfather know them? And can Alex safely harness the robot’s power, or will it fall into the wrong, wicked hands?
Monstrous Devices publishes in paperback on April 1st 2021. It is also available right now on Audiobook, eBook and in Hardback.
But it doesn’t end there...
Book Two is coming right around the corner!
The Shadow Arts (Book Two)
The thrilling sequel to Monstrous Devices–Alex and his grandfather hold the fate of history itself in their hands in a Rick Riordan meets Raiders of the Lost Ark adventure of epic proportions!
A few months ago, Alex’s world changed…forever.
Now, just when it seems life is almost getting back to normal, Alex’s grandfather crashes back into the picture with grave news: their friend Harry has fallen into the clutches of a familiar foe, and the old man needs Alex’s help to rescue him.
This time, the duo’s desperate dash across Europe leads from Paris deep into Germany’s foreboding Black Forest, as they chase down the mystery Harry had been investigating when he disappeared. A series of art thefts has made headlines across the continent, but the thieves are after more than priceless paintings. In the wrong hands, these stolen artefacts could unlock an ancient secret bigger than anything Alex ever dreamed of. If they can’t solve the riddle in time, innocent lives – and even history itself – could be at stake.
The Shadow Arts publishes in hardback on May 20th 2021. It will is also available in eBook.
And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you to find out more, here is a little Q&A with the author himself.
Can you describe your book(s) in 5 words?
Strange adventures, sinister stuff, biscuits.
How did growing up in Glasgow inspire you?
Well, I didn’t grow up in Glasgow, I grew up in a small town about 20 miles away called Wishaw, and Glasgow felt very far away – everywhere felt very far away. Which was itself a big inspiration for trying to find out about the world. Looking back, it was quite a strange landscape. We lived on a street on the very edge of our council estate, and the front of our house looked out over empty countryside, just fields sloping down for a couple of miles towards the river Clyde, then more fields sloping back up on the other side of the river. But if you went out the back door, you were in a completely different terrain: the scheme bordered heavy industry, steel mills, factories, smoke in the sky, strange fires in the night. When I was a small kid, the mills and factories were in full swing, but as I entered my teens, all that work started dying away, or getting killed off, and the town with it. It often felt like there wasn’t much to do, but that made me discover the local libraries early, and I started devouring books and comics and records of all sorts…which is how I ended up trying to write stuff.
Your robots come in all shapes and sizes. What was your inspiration for these?
A misspent youth, reading too many (i.e. not enough) comics and watching too many (i.e. not enough) weird old sci-fi and horror movies on TV. Also, I always liked the look of old tin toy robots, especially the really early ones from around the 1950s. A lot of them were made in Japan, quite cheaply, from scraps of tin, but the designers had amazing imaginations and style, and they came up with all these odd, amazing-looking things. If you search on the internet, you’ll find some good examples – try looking up “THUNDER ROBOT”, “RADAR ROBOT” and “TREMENDOUS MIKE” for starters. And you could check out “ATOMIC ROBOT MAN”, which was the loose inspiration for the toy robot at the heart of Monstrous Devices. Someone gave me a copy of that toy as a gift years ago, and the seeds for the book began to grow one day when I was just staring at it on my shelf.
About the author
Damien Love was born in Scotland and lives in Glasgow, where, even as you read these words, it is raining. He is the author of several books on film and filmmakers, and is the TV critic for Scotland’s broadsheet, the Sunday Herald. He has the ability to talk to cars, but there is no evidence that they understand him.
You can find out more about Damien by visiting his website: https://damienlove.com/
You can also follow him on Twitter at @DeviceMonstrous