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Amazon Vine sent me a copy of John Dickinson’s; ‘Muddle and Win: The Battle for Sally Jones’ as part of their review programme, in return for my honest opinion of the book.

Muddle and win - compressed

This is an adventure story played out against a grand background – the fight between good and evil, heaven and hell.

Muddlespot is a lowly demon from the bowels of Pandemonium, best known for his brass polishing techniques and his ability to not get obliterated by his very demanding demon boss, Corozin.

The powers that be in Pandemonium are concerned that the angels are on a winning streak with a young girl called Sally Jones, a paragon of virtue who has never done a single bad deed.  Things like this matter in the precarious battle between good and evil, and Corozin decides to send Muddlespot to earth to try and infiltrate Sally’s mind and heart and turn her to the dark side.

Muddlespot knows he isn’t being sent for his skills, he is the proverbial, sacrificial lamb, and when he accidentally scores a direct hit with Sally alarm bells go off all over creation and he finds himself in a battle with Heaven’s number one angel, Windleberry.

This is a funny, silly take on the eternal battle between good and evil, which, for me, doesn’t work all that well.

The whole book seems to be building up to being a great story, but suddenly the book ends and the story hasn’t even really begun.  If I were being charitable, I would suggest that it may be because this is destined to be the first in a series, which would excuse the damp squib of the ending.  If not, I would be very disappointed in the book.

The humour carries a lot of the plot weaknesses along, and means that to an average, child reader, the failure of the plot to balance, or end successfully probably won’t even register.

I recommend it to both boy and girl readers from about the age of eight to ten. It would be a good read aloud story for younger children as long as they had, or were given, a clear background as to what the back story is, otherwise the story may fall a little flat.