The latest addition to the ‘Demon Headmaster’ series, this book has everything that made the original stories so successful with an added modern twist.
Lizzie and her younger brother Tyler aren’t looking forward to returning to Hazelbrook Academy. However, when they arrive, they find everything has changed. And it’s not for the better. Every pupil is now perfectly behaved and suddenly everyone seems to have a special talent. Even the teachers are acting strangely. And, if that isn’t enough, Lizzie inexplicably finds herself throwing food around the canteen and being accused of vandalising the school. Lizzie is determined to find out what has caused the sudden change in everyone’s behaviour but it’s hard because no one seems to be able to talk about what’s going on. It’s almost as if the Hazelbrook students are no longer able to think and act for themselves. Could it, perhaps, be something to do with the mysterious new headmaster?
I have no doubt that the idea of an evil headmaster with strange hypnotic powers will have a strong appeal to children. Indeed, The Demon Headmaster: Total Control is being launched with the aim of introducing this hugely successful series to a new generation of readers. It’s a good plan: the Demon Headmaster series was first published in the 1980s and have, as far as I can tell, been in print ever since. They were also made into a successful television series in the late 1990s.
This new book has all the characteristics that made the original stories so successful. Relatively short and accessible, there’s a character for every reader to relate to whether that’s Lizzie or Tyler or the newest boy in the school, Ethan. My personal favourites were, however, the two supporting characters: reluctant business entrepreneur Angelika and the former bully Blake.
The plot rattles along at a good pace. Indeed, this book is packed with page turning chapter endings and fun and exciting scenarios. There are too many to mention but the best has to be the climax when Lizzie, Tyler, Ethan, Angelika and Blake team up to disrupt the Prime Minister’s visit with hilarious consequences. I couldn’t help trying to guess the plan each member of the team would come up with.
I also loved the attention that author, Gillian Cross, has given to updating the school environment in this story. I really enjoyed the modern twist that has been added to her classic story formula. Our main characters make maximum use of their mobile phones and social media while the Headmaster uses the school website to hypnotise the pupil’s parents. In a wonderful detail, he also has drones skimming through the corridors in order to monitor the students’ behaviour. Inspired!
If you enjoyed this, why not go back to the beginning and read the very first book in the series – The Demon Headmaster. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another mystery set in a school for the same age group, I’d recommend you try the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens: start with Murder Most Unladylike although my person favourite is the fourth in the series Jolly Foul Play.
Publication date: July 2017
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Author’s website: Gillian Cross
Review first published on The Bookbag