fast paced adventure with thrilling darker undertones, lightened up by a grumpy dormouse.

In his first novel, Ralphs has created a feisty young witch, Hazel, and some entertaining side characters such as Titus White, the drunken Witch Finder, and Bramley, a dormouse familiar.  The plot starts relatively slow and gets faster and faster, with some excellent twists towards the end.   Ralphs conjures up some truly scary scenes including the Dreadful Remains and her Poppet – and frightening demons: Baal with his servant, Petrov; blind Rawhead who sniffs out magic; and Spindle, the giant spider.  The ending left me impatient to find out what happens next in the Fire Girl’s story.

My only very slight quibble is that the dormouse might mislead readers into thinking this was a cute story.  It really is not.  It gets increasingly dark as the story unfolds and there’s a delicious frisson of horror in the last scene.   I don’t want to lose the dormouse.  The partnership is great fun and very useful, I just would like Bramley and his relationship with Hazel to tie in more with the atmosphere of future books in the series.