Demelza and the Spectre Detectors by Holly Rivers

“Someone or something was in the room with her. She couldn’t see it, but she could definitely feel it. An energy, a force…
Slowly, she peered over the edge of her bed, and with every molecule of courage she could muster, let the torch light up the shadowy space beneath.
‘Show yourself! Come out or I’ll… I’ll…’
Demelza’s words were robbed from her lips.
Her body had started to shake. First her toes, then her knees and then her hands, until every inch of her being was trembling furiously as if she were at the receiving end of an electric shock.”

Demelza and the Spectre Detectors is the highly original and humorous debut of former children’s TV star (The Worst Witch), Holly Rivers. The story takes place in the seemingly quaint village of Little Penhallow in the lead up to Halloween and centres around Demelza Clock, a self-proclaimed scientist and inventor. Under the care of Grandma Maeve in Bladderwrack Cottage, Demelza spends her days dreaming up new inventions to help her survive Stricton Academy led by severe headmistress, Ms Cardinal. Only pasty Percy encourages Demelza – and he can’t leave his house in case his allergies flare up. Then one night, something strange happens, something wholly unscientific that Demelza can’t explain – not even with the help of her Fantastical Fortune-Telling Toaster:

Demelza can summon ghosts.

Like her long-dead parents and Grandma Maeve, Demelza is a Spectre Detector. As she learns how to use her skills to help the bereaved say goodbye, Demelza also discovers she’s at great risk from people who’d do her harm for the chance to resurrect a loved one. Things quickly take a decided turn for the worse with the disappearance of Grandma Maeve. How can Demelza save her, with only sickly Percy and the annoying skull of Lord Balthazar III for help?

As a fearless scientist with the most unscientific of talents, Demelza’s journey from frustrated inventor to queen of ghosts, is fast-paced and chock-full of mystery. Rivers’ imagination knows no bounds as she leads us through this strange, occasionally spooky, world of spirits. What might be seen as a difficult subject is, in Rivers’ hands, fascinating, beautiful and often down-right funny. The humour is pinned down by gripping intrigue and mounting clues in the style of a mystery. Just who is the Snatcher?

Exploring death, friendship, science and the afterlife, Demelza and the Spectre Detectors manages to keep the fun coming and the pages turning in the midst of quirky inventions – both Demelza’s and Rivers’ own inventive prose. While Stricton Academy’s motto may be the dire: “Your Best Will Never Be Good Enough”, this debut by Rivers is more than good enough and Demelza – with more stories promised by Chicken House – is a thoroughly modern heroine.


Holly Rivers
Alex T Smith
Chicken House

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment