The Elemental Detectives

The Elemental Detectives

By Author / Illustrator

Patrice Lawrence



Age range(s)







Paperback / softback




A stunningly imagined, action-packed fantasy adventure for fans of Nevermoor, Neverwhere and Mortal Engines, from bestselling and award-winning author Patrice Lawrence. 

Step into a London lit up by the Elemental spirits: the fiery Dragons, the airy Fumis, the watery Chads and the earthbound Magogs. But humans have been causing chaos for centuries, trampling through the landscape trailing noise, mess and pollution. What if the Elements could slow down this new world... or stop it all together? The revenge-fuelled Shepherdess, who moves between the everyday and the supernatural London worlds, is the perfect weapon. She brings a sleeping sickness down on the city with the destruction of society in her sights. Marisee and Robert are the Elemental Detectives chasing the clues to avoid catastrophe: they must face the ghosts of Hyde Park, the monstrous coiled snake of the Serpentine, and a whole host of other fantastical creatures in their mission to stop the Shepherdess and prevent London slumbering for all eternity... Big, bold, future classic storytelling for a new generation. A London where magic sparks just beneath the surface - this book is set to ignite young imaginations. The page-turning, empowering, heart-racing first book in a major new series.

"A beautifully written book, bristling with magic, set in an ancient London filled with dragons, ghosts, water spirits, and a mysterious, creeping sleeping-sickness that must be fought by the brave young heroes. I loved it." Cressida Cowell, Children's Laureate & author of How to Train Your Dragon.  "I loved reading about a re-imagining of London with so much invention and energy. The world-building is well...out of this world. Patrice Lawrence is amongst the greatest voices for young people writing today. I'm honoured to be a peer of hers." - Alex Wheatle, author of Cane Warriors.



The Elemental Detectives is an exciting read, set in an historic alternative London governed by groups of Elemental spirits who look after the air, rivers, wealth and foundations of the city. Marisee Blackwell lives with her grandmother, who is the Keeper of the Wells of London, and who cares for the Chads - the water elementals who ensure that the waters are kept clean and pure. Strange things are happening in the city; people are falling asleep and cannot be woken. They sleep with smiles on their faces and yellow mist settles around them.

One morning, Marisee's grandmother disappears, leaving behind her a note saying that she has gone into hiding to protect the Freedom of the City of London. If it falls into the wrong hands, the city will be lost. Together with Robert Strong, a former slave boy now working for the wealthy Hibbert family, Marisee sets off to find her grandmother and try to ensure that the Freedom is not taken by the wrong people.

So begins an action-packed adventure. Marisee and Robert meet the different Elementals; the watery Chads, the Dragons, the Fumis and the Magogs as they journey through London in search of Madam Blackwell. They must defeat the vengeful Shepherdess, who is responsible for the sleeping sickness and intends to destroy London. Marisee and Robert meet ghosts in Hyde Park, a plague monster in the Serpentine (a particularly chilling part of the novel) and many other fantastic creatures as their quest unfolds.

Marisee and Robert are both fabulous characters. Marisee is brave and loyal, determined to reverse the tragic happenings in the city. Robert is vulnerable, his background as a slave makes him an easy prey for the evil Shepherdess, but he evokes much sympathy within the reader. The author cleverly gives an insight into the cruel world of the slave plantations by use of flashbacks. When Robert dreams, we learn about his family and the difficulties and horrors they have faced. There is a strong theme of family within the book; Marisee never knew her father and has not seen her mother for 10 years, so her grandmother is the most important person in her life. Robert has been separated from his family through the evils of slavery, but they are constantly in his thoughts. One of the most touching parts of the book is that, when people fall victim to the sleeping sickness, they do not want to wake because they dream of people they have lost, usually family members.

The novel is extremely well researched, using many of London’s famous landmarks and giving the reader a new insight into them. The story is complex, but the action flows smoothly so it is easy to follow. The author gives us extra information at the end of the book, telling us more about the Elementals and explaining the inspiration behind the writing of the book. I particularly liked the fact that the character of Robert is based partly upon that of a real slave boy, Jonathan Strong. All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully written adventure, full of believable character whom the reader really cares about. It is just scary enough to thrill without being terrifying, and leads to a satisfying conclusion. We are also given a very strong hint that there will be a sequel, which is great news - I cannot wait to see what new adventures await Marisee and Robert!

432 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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