Ace of Spiders, by Stefan Mohamed, is the second book in a planned YA fantasy trilogy which began with Bitter Sixteen. Since I read that first book last month I have been eagerly waiting for this installment. It did not disappoint.
The protagonist, Stanly Bird, is now eighteen years old. He has remained in London and continues to work at Skank’s comic book store. He is also bored. After fighting the child abducting monster his life has returned to that of a normal, geeky teenager. With his powers continuing to grow he feels wasted on normalcy. The empowered friends with whom he lodges disagree. They believe that if their superpowers were revealed to the public they would be endangered, that the authorities would wish to use them for their own ends. Their run in with the secretive Angel Group confirmed their worst fears and they want nothing to do with that way of life so choose to lie low.
When a contract killer attempts to murder Stanly his friends demand that he remains indoors until they can uncover who was behind the attack. Stanly is unwilling to comply. He sneaks out at night, flying around the city and beyond. Just as it looks as though his friends may be losing patience with him more sinister developments demand all of their attentions. The Angel Group has returned to their radars and this may not be the only monster that the empowered are required to fight.
As with the first in the series the appeal of this book is the humour and wit of the writing. Stanly Bird is not the brightest bulb in the box, although his powers are undoubtedly impressive and great fun to consider. He is all the more likeable because of his flaws. His temper and tendency to daydream add to the authenticity, his awkwardness invites empathy.
Brought up alongside computer games, who wouldn’t dream of fighting the baddies if given the power of flight and telekinesis? The problem for Stanly and his friends is working out who the baddies are and what a handful of individuals can actually achieve, especially when the rest of London wishes to be left alone to go about their everyday lives.
The plot twists and turns as monsters rise from the depths, motivations within the Angel Group are revealed, and increasing numbers of empowered people are discovered. When the lives of those he loves are threatened Stanly must decide how far he is willing to go, if he is willing to kill more than just the monsters.
The denouement was a roller coaster of battles, destruction, switching allegiances and the awesomeness of mind control. The author has created a hero with powers a reader can only dream about, and then demonstrates how difficult it would be to live with them. He also has fun showing some of what could be done.
A rollicking good ride that I flew through and now desire more. This is impressive, entertaining, addictive stuff.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Salt.