When twins Greta and Feliks are sent to the ill-omened Schwartzgarten Reformatory for Maladjusted Children it seems their fate is sealed: that is until they are rescued by the glamorous Olga Van Veenen, a fabulously wealthy children's author, plagued by writer's block. But Olga's life is apparently in danger, threatened by a second-rate novelist who wishes to see his rival dead. When Olga and her faithful retainer, Valentin, disappear from the eerie and imposing Castle Van Veenen, many miles north by train from Schwartzgarten's Imperial Railway Station, Greta and Feliks conclude that the murderous novelist has finally exacted his revenge on Olga. Only by using their wits are the twins able to rescue their guardian before it is too late. As if by magic, Olga's writer's block lifts, and she quickly produces and publishes a new book for children. The novel has eerie similarities to the twins' adventures in Castle Van Veenen, and Greta and Feliks begin to question whether their guardian has deliberately placed them in danger for literary inspiration.
But Olga Van Veenen has come too far to have her reputation muddied by the allegations of the twins, and will stop at nothing to silence them forever.
A gruesomely funny series for fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket
A deliciously dark invitation to the strange world of Schwartzgarten. We Love This Book Fiendish plots abound in this exciting story full of gruesome deeds cleverly mixed with humorous moments. Primary Times You want to be caught up in the thrall of delicious deviance and page-turning scandal, go on, get stuck in. Sarah McIntyre A gruesome and very funny tale full of the most fabulous, colourful characters. Bookzone4Boys A brilliant story with wonderful characters... imaginative ideas burst from the pages. Families Magazine A beautifully written book, enticing the senses with theatre and atmosphere. A world any capable young reader would be excited to stumble across. Booktrust Exciting, scary, lots of twists... very funny. So shocking and adventurous it even made me put my Beano down and get all the way to the end of the book! The Guardian You can't not read it! Ten out of ten. The Guardian Hill is not sentimental about children; he captures every child's sense of angry powerlessness and turns it upside-down, letting readers explore the fantastic thrill and horror of what could happen if they were clever enough to claim total power over adults and wreak perfect, calculated revenge. Adult readers will find this horribly funny, but I suspect younger readers will find it less amusing than deliciously satisfying, a twist of the knife into bullies everywhere. Grippingly deviant, deliciously vengeful. Sarah McIntyre (Jabberwocks) This book is wickedly funny, deliciously dark and superbly sinister. I'd love to visit Schwartzgarten (but only with a full security team to protect me). It's also a good reminder to NEVER mess with small boys in big glasses. Alex T Smith (author of the Claude series)
Christopher William Hill is an award-winning playwright and radio dramatist. His plays for young people have been performed in the UK and internationally.