Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie, set in England and all that, and I think it started near Dover. I’m not exactly sure. It has a website if you’d like to check that out. Anyway the story starts on a dark and gloomy night…… [insert record scratch sounds here] Sorry, wrong story. The story starts on a night where Lady Lightning and Master Thunder are having an argument, a particularly splendid one judging by the flashes of lightning and thunder claps. On this night, a rider appears at Delphi Keep with a little baby girl, who he found wandering in the fields. Ian Wigby is hiding upstairs, eavesdropping on this. Madame Dumbleby brings the girl upstairs while Madame Scargill gets some tea ready for their visitor. It turned out that the rider had withheld something that he’d found with the baby, a necklace with a very pretty gem on it.
He was going to keep it as payment for his “services”, but Madame Scargill told him he was going to do no such thing, saying it was the baby’s property. So she confiscated it from him. Then he left while she was in the kitchen. Do you believe in hounds from hell (“hellhounds”)? If you don’t, and don’t like the idea of them, this book isn’t for you. A strange creature howled in the night, and it badly frightened Madame Gertrude Scargill. She and Madame Maggie Dimbleby discussed what to do regarding the howl, Maggie brushed it off, saying that the creature that Gertrude had seen when she was six that had frightened her couldn’t possibly be the same thing. How wrong she was. Anyway, they knew that Ian had been listening, but instead of punishing him for going out of his room past bedtime, Madame Dimbleby gave him the “punishment” of having to name and take care of the baby.
Ian named her Theodosia Fields. Meanwhile, a man named Magus is waiting in a strange building while staring at a fire, on a cot is a woman who’s an ashen gray. Behind him are two black creatures with red eyes, resembling wolves. Hellhounds. Magus is looking for the woman’s child, who, according to a prophecy, should be a boy. But no, Laodamia’s prophecy might be tricking them Magus reasons, seeing as the woman clearly states that her child was a girl. This is the mother of Theodosia, who left her in the fields so that she wouldn’t come to harm, for she knew Theo might get killed if she was found with her. Herr Van Schuft (I think that was his name) cames when Magus calls him. They discuss what the Magus is going to do, for the One must be killed, as well as her Guardian. He sends the she-wolf (hellhound) to kill the rider, and bring back the child alive. I forget how exactly he knew the rider had Theo, or how he even knew about the rider in the first place (he probably used sorcery to get the answer out of Theo’s mother).
Anyway, we come back to brighter places, Ian and Theo are older (I think she is eight), and they are exploring a network of tunnels. Of course, the tunnels are a forbidden area to the children, but Ian is an explorer, and Theo is his best friend (I like her name, Theodosia, it’s pretty). They are currently looking in a tunnel they hadn’t travelled before. They come upon a cavern that has Greek writing in it, and there is a silver box half buried in the ground. Theo had been having a bad feeling when they entered the tunnel, she smelled something bad, and then heard something unsettling. Only when Ian started getting the box out of the ground did he hear it. They narrowly avoided getting Ian’s leg snapped off by a hellhound. Luckily, the female nightmare couldn’t get her body out of the hole they came through, as it was only big enough for her head. Okay I’m sorry but I’m a little distracted with this post……
I’ll try to make it short (which will be harder than you think). So they get back to the Keep, Searle (an orphan and a bully) picks a fight with Ian by throwing a rock at Theo’s head. So Madame Scargill comes, they’re seperated, and the box is noticed. Searle insists that Ian and Theo stole it from him, and that it’s something his aunt gave to him the day he came to the orphanage, and it belonged to his dear old dead mother. Which of course, is a lie, and if I hadn’t disliked him when he threw the stone at Theo, I would have certainly disliked him then. He was only trying to get the box because it was Ian’s and Theo’s and he knew they wanted it, and because of that reason, he wanted it (this is my biased opinion).
Later, Theo predicted that the Earl would arrive with two men and an orphan boy. The Earl was the Keep’s benefactor, and he was always bringing them new orphans whenever there was room. Theo is usually right when it comes to predicting things like that, and this time was no exception. The Earl arrived with Thatcher and Perry Goodwyn, who were going to be their new schoolmasters, and Carl, a new orphan boy, rescued from an overcrowded orphanage. Ian was supposed to stay upstairs, like Searle, because of their argument earlier (and it was Ian’s birthday too!), but Theo knew he was hiding and listening to what was going on, so Theo found out that Carl liked exploring, and said that he’d probably like Ian. And then she managed to get a word in to the Earl so that he would visit Ian.
And he was looking out his window when he saw it. The hellhound. It had found him and Theo. So he asked the Earl if he could speak with him in private for a moment, and the Earl agreed. Ian told him about the hellhound and gave them an abridged version of events, that left Theo blameless. Very nice of him. So the Earl and the Goodwyns went to go get hunting rifles from the castle, meanwhile, the children were to go to the West tower and lock the doors behind them, and there they were to wait for the Earl and the Goodwyns to arrive. Carl volunteered to watch for their return, unfortunately though, nearly everyone forgot about the door in the cellar that was always unlocked. Ian and Madame Dimbleby rushed down there to lock it, and were almost not in time. But they somehow made it, then they went back up, locked the next door behind them, and then got Carl and fled to the East tower, because the West was way too crowded.
The hellhound gradually made it’s way up towards them, wrecking almost everything, then Ian realized that if it got to them, and got through the barricade they had made (it would with the strength it had exibited), then they were dead. So he ran out to distract it. That worked, until he got thrown, then Carl used the top of a desk to whack the hellhound. It pinned him to the floor, and so Ian hit it on the head again with the axe handle, it was going to pounce on him and he was going to die when there was an explosion. A gun shot. Perry checked him to see if he was okay, and found that Ian’s shoulder had been dislocated, they had shot the hellhound a few times, and it was thrown out the window. When they looked out to to see the body… it wasn’t there. It was gone. But it could bleed, for there was blood from it’s wounds left on the floor.
Freaky eh? And that’s not the end of it! The orphans are moved to Delphi Castle in the morning, and a hunting party is arranged. Ian goes with them, and it turns out some of the first Greek writing that he and Theo saw said “Young boy Wigby, come this way”. So they thought he had written it, it took a good deal to convince them that he hadn’t. The rest wasn’t so easy to read, so Thatcher copied it out to show to Professor Nutley, an old friend of his from Cambridge. And they find out something horrifying, the female hellhound had a litter. At least four. And judging by the size of the hellhound, they’d be the size of cats. Oh, and did I mention that crystal that belongs to Theo by right was found by Ian when he went to retrieve the silver box before they left the Keep? And on the day they hunted, Thatcher and Ian went to get him a coat, and the cottage where the Goodwyn’s were staying had a picture of Theo and her mother in it.
Amazing isn’t it? It’s a very good read, 549 pages, not much thicker than a Bartimaeus trilogy book. Read, enjoy, and comment! ^_^ I hope this review is what you were looking for. Oh yes, there is quite a bit of suspense and action in this book (with seven hellhounds on the loose, how could there not be?). Did you notice I said SEVEN hellhounds? I didn’t make an error, there are the four pups, the parents, and then the last remaining hellhound from the previous litter, who had had to kill all his siblings off so as not to get killed himself. Medea, Kerberos, and I forget the name of the older pup. The younger pups didn’t get names in the book. I end this review with a fond adieu to you all (or however it is you say “good bye”/”farewell” in French, though I’m relatively sure it’s adieu). Until the next post,