From the back cover:
A spine-tingling adventure with a steampunk flavor about a lonely boy, his butler, the deaf maid, and a guardian who just may or may not be evil… Theo can never leave his room at Empire Hall. He receives painful treatments to control his illness and must wear special gloves for a mysterious reason. Completely cut off from the outside world, Theo yearns to find a way to escape. When he discovers the story of Lord Wickland, the scourge of the underworld, he learns that his special illness may be a gift in disguise. Following the Candle Man’s trail, Theo learns that he is destined for great things outside of Empire Hall. Molded in the great tradition of Percy Jack and Septimus Heap, The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance is the first volume of a thriller trilogy with a steampunk flavor from author Glenn Dakin.
This book definitely lived up to my expectations. Theo is a boy who has grown up rarely leaving his room and only knowing 3 people – Dr. Saint, Mr. Nicely (the butler), and a deaf maid named Clarice. He has an illness that forces him to wear gloves and submit to treatments that involve a machine called The Mercy Tube.
One night, two robbers knock out the butler and force Theo to show them around. They discover a secret room with articles and a poster of a man that looks exactly like him – called The Candle Man. The older robber gets afraid after seeing the poster and they start to leave, when they decide Theo cannot live to tell of what they looked like. Just as the younger man is about to kill Theo, Theo grabs him and he is not wearing his gloves. The man melts away before his eyes and the other robber runs away.
Theo becomes more curious and when he receives an anonymous note that he is in danger, he tries to escape, to be added by a strange creature. He meets the remaining members of The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance who tell him of the evil deeds of those who had held him captive – The Society of Good Works. Theo learns that his touch is not an illness, but a gift – to help rid the world of criminals. His arms glow anytime a criminal is near.
This book was filled with interesting characters, the likes of which I can only compare to Lemony Snicket. Theo takes a while to catch on to how the world works, but finds that having friends makes him feel more confident in himself and his abilities to fight against The Society of Good Works – whose works are never really “good” – even though they pretend they are.