Inky Blog Book of the Month: Nightspark by Michael Mann
Updated: Feb 17
Find your fire. Light your path.
It's been months since Luke escaped from captivity underneath Battersea Power Station.
But even though he now has his dream job as an Apprentice Detective by day, and soars through the skies with Alma, a ghost-girl, by night, Luke hasn't been able to move on: because his friend Ravi didn't escape with him. No one knows where he is and – even worse – no one is looking for him.
When Luke and Alma get information about where Ravi might be, they set off to find him. But dark shadows are haunting Luke's dreams. And Ravi is not the only one in danger.
Is Luke willing to risk everything to bring his friend home?
Nightspark is the second book in the riveting, magical adventure series, set on the waterways of a richly reimagined London. Michael Mann's first book in the series, Ghostcloud, follows the trials of a group of children held as prisoners and forced into hard labour by the wonderfully repulsive Tabatha Margate. Kidnapped from the streets of London and held underground in a half-bombed, blackened power station, Luke and his friends must defeat Tabatha and her greasy henchman Terence, to secure their escape. Help comes unexpectedly from a ghost-girl called Alma, when Luke discovers he is half-human, half-ghost.
Nightspark picks up the story with Tabatha and Terence still on the run, and plotting their next dastardly move. And although most children were freed from Battersea Power Station at the end of the first book, some children, including Luke's best friend Ravi, are still missing. Luke can't shake the guilt he feels over Ravi, nor the feeling that someone – or something – is watching him from the shadows.
As a kid, I always looked up at the sky and wondered: was anyone looking back? – Michael Mann
Finally reunited with his family, Luke is struggling to readjust to life above ground. He is plagued by nightmares of his time at Battersea and worries that something more sinister than just bad dreams may be going on. Despite missing two years of school, Luke successfully passes the Detectives Guild exam and starts his dream job as an apprentice Detective, as his friend Jess begins her apprenticeship with the Plumbers Guild. Luke's mentor, Oberdink, takes an instant dislike to him and proceeds to make his first days on the job as difficult as possible, while Luke tries to use his new found position to track down Tabatha and Terence who will hopefully lead him to Ravi. But Luke soon catches the attention of the Mayor and must decide whether Tabatha's former collaborator is to be trusted.
As his search for Ravi continues, Alma teaches Luke more about life as a half-ghost. Alma's new initiative is spotting soulglows – or Nightsparks – and shepherding them to the end place. He also uses his newly honed ghost skills to hunt ghouls in a desperate bid to impress the Ghost Council, something that seems more and more unlikely, no matter how hard he tries. But still, even with his new life in the skies, Luke cannot stop thinking about Ravi.
Together with his friends, Jess and Alma, Luke sets out on his most daring adventure yet, risking his own life to find Ravi and bring Tabatha to justice. In the process, Luke must work out just exactly who he can trust.
To save your friend... you must sacrifice everything.
Michael Mann has crafted a fascinating world for Luke – a grim vision of a future London, ravaged by war with Europe, and battling rising water levels in the Thames, with Londoners having to navigate the city by boat. Recognisable landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul's and Battersea Power Station itself are mapped side by side with the Aeroplane Graveyard, New Thames Barrier, the Dead Zone and the Slums.
If you are looking for great examples of how to add depth and conflict to your plot, Nightspark is a great place to start. The strands of story are woven together expertly as Luke battles to forge new alliances while rebuilding home, work and friendships. The obstacles to Luke's goals come thick and fast: Tabatha, Terence, the Mayor, the Ghost Council. At every turn there is another opportunity to trip him up and stop him from saving the day, making us root for him from beginning to end.
No review is complete without a huge shout of adoration for the illustrator. Chaaya Prabhat's gorgeous cover illustrations for both books are just beautiful, perfectly enhancing the stories within and capturing the magic of Luke's mystical world.
Nightspark brings us an epic conclusion to the Ghostcloud series and we are delighted to choose it as our Inky Blog Book of the Month for February. We can't wait to see what Michael Mann does next!
Support a local bookshop and pick up a copy of Michael Mann's Nightspark at Bookshop.org.