For the uninitiated, escape rooms are a singularly 21st century leisure activity, comprised of a team, one or more locked rooms, and a game master, whose fiendish challenges and puzzles must be solved within a set time. In Escape Room by Christopher Edge, we meet Ami, whose dad has booked her a ticket for the ultimate experience. An ingeniously plotted adventure is in store, as Ami and her unknown teammates grapple with an incendiary game of chess, a herd of woolly mammoths, and the realisation that the future of the world itself may be at stake.
The venue is a futuristic ‘neon blade’ of a building, tipping the wink to clue-hunting readers with its circular lobby reminiscent of the bridge of a spaceship. Here, Ami meets her fellow team-mates, Min, Oscar, Ibrahim, and cool cat Adjoa, who posits that five kids working together should be five times as smart. But that’s five smart kids with five very different personalities, and it’s the one with ‘restless eyes’ who will prove to be the loose cannon, as they enter the first escape room.
Here, motionless in an armchair and resembling a sinister magician from tales of old is a cross-looking gentleman, sporting a bejewelled robe and pointed beard. Seated at a chessboard, his invitation is clear, and chess whizz Ami steps up to the checkmate challenge. This first task will test the rookie teammates to the max. Events spiral out of control as they forget the principle instructions of the game ( look around carefully, EVERYTHING is part of the game) and the hirsute sorcerer seems intent on taking the kids ‘straight to hell.’
Edge is a brilliantly original writer, whose brain-stretching books are filled with thrills and puzzles. In this fast-paced and twisty new novel, he employs some unexpected shocks as our young lateral-thinkers grapple with some increasingly sticky and portentous situations, all under the watchful eye of the mysterious unseen game master.
A riveting read.
If you like this, see also our review of The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christopher Edge.
Escape Room by Christopher Edge is published by Nosy Crow, 208 pages.