A few years ago, shortly after moving to France, I had the occasion to visit the catacombs in Paris. Well, a number of occasions actually – several sets of friends came to visit and with the temperatures heat-wave strong, the catacombs were about the coolest place to be. And, without a doubt, they are also among the creepiest and strangest places I’ve ever been. Easily creepy and strange enough to be the scene of Dan’s second adventure.
Poor Dan, he really thinks his school trip to Paris is going to be a bit of a holiday. But things go wrong almost at once when he tries to help Brian — the littlest kid in the class. And while his ghostly sidekick, Simon, proves useful against bullies, he’s his usual flappy self when the seriously supernatural stuff starts to happen. There’s a house full of Parisian Goths to deal with too, not to mention a French teacher who takes Dan’s inability to learn the lingo personally. Skulls and skulduggery, music and murder, bad accents and fancy paper engineering — all collide to ensure Dan’s week in Paris is one to remember. Provided he can get home alive, of course. And that’s far from guaranteed when the person trying to kill him appears to be none other than Death himself.
So who’s in it, then? Well there’s Dan, of course. Here he is, with his trademark purple shades and death’s head leather coat. Well, if you’re the only one who can see the spirits of the desperate dead, you have to dress up a bit, don’t you? But Dan keeps his cool when it comes to his dealings with the defunct. He has to – he’s in business, after all. What’s that? What does a ghost have left to pay? Why, their memories, of course. How else do you think a fourteen-year-old boy knows how to fly a plane or speak Hungarian? It’s not Dan’s fault those things aren’t very useful under the streets of Paris.
Simon’s in the story a lot too. Naturally – he’s Dan’s ghostly guardian. Yes, okay, he’s dead — which is a bit of a disadvantage — and yes, he does have a bullet hole in his head which leaks ectoplasm, but check out that ponytail! They were all the rage three hundred and fifty years ago, and they’re way overdue for a comeback. And anyway, it’s not like Si’s been idle all that time. Mostly the dead are pretty helpless, but Si’s worked out a neat little trick: he can move stuff with his mind. Well, small things, anyway. And if you combine that with being invisible, Si’s not quite the dead loss he looks. When he’s not having an attack of the vapours, that is. And that never happens!
Okay, there’s a girl in it too. But Lucifane is pretty much the key to everything that happens to Dan in Paris, even the spooky stuff. Actually, especially the spooky stuff, since it’s the ghost of Lucifane’s brother who needs the most help. That’s him, swishing about in the picture above. And now Luci and the other Goths who sneak into the catacombs at night are in danger of their lives. Even the Sunglasses Kid (though no-one knows who he is).
Lastly, Brian is pretty important – it’s his problems that set Dan on a collision course with the class bully. But Brian’s got powers too — geek powers. He is ace at mathematics, and no one makes a paper plane like Bri. With Brian on origami, and Simon in his best wig, Dan and Luci have all the back-up they need. But will it be enough to survive in the terrifying Caverns of Bone?
Dan and the Caverns of Bone will be published on the 6th of June, 2013, by A&C Black (Bloomsbury). Fancy reading the first chapter? You can, on Amazon.co.uk – just click to look inside. Or click here for Dan’s first adventure – Dan and the Dead, which was part of the Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge in 2013. That means you should be able to find Dan in your local library too.