I'm trying to remember a book I read when in around 2010-2011. I live in Britain, so it was probably by a British author and set in England. I don't remember if it was an old or new book (but it was written in a modern style) or anything about the cover, but it was scary and had some scenes that have stayed with me ever since.

I remember that the main character was a youngish girl, who moved into a large new house and explored it with her brother. The house had a large overgrown garden, and there were a group of 'gypsies' (travelling people?) who lived in the grounds/nearby.

The first scene from the book I remember was where the girl and her brother were in a room in the house and heard noises behind the panelling. The girl then began to imagine what it was, picturing a mouldering monk that was going to leap out and attack them - the description was very graphic and this was the point where I realised the book was more horror-ish than I had expected. Instead of a monk, a boy about their age appears, and he becomes the third main character.

There are a couple more plot points/scenes I remember, I'll summarise them:

  • The main plot is that the kids have to stop the 'bad guys' from making a homunculus
  • This homunculus is eventually made, from parts of dead pets (a labrador dog is mentioned) but also from the girl's own DNA, from a wart she has removed in an earlier scene
  • There's a scene where the girl is looking out of her window into the dark and is startled by the appearance of one of the 'gypsies', he smiles and lifts his hat to reveal his head has been bashed in.
  • There is also a graphic description of how the dog belonging to the travellers was disembowelled and its intestines were 'gleaming'
  • (This book was seriously graphic and creepy, especially at the age when I read it)

1 Answer 1


Doctor Illuminatus by Martin Booth

Google book summary:

Pip and her twin brother, Tim, awaken an alchemist's son from a centuries-long slumber when their family moves to an old English country estate, and he enlists them in the fight against an evil alchemist who seeks to create a homunculus.

Reviewer mentions disemboweled dog and man with crushed skull at the window (among other dark elements).

  • that's the one! thank you so much!
    – capiche
    Oct 15, 2018 at 8:41
  • I've expanded on this answer to explain how it matches a bit more using some quotes from the book and some reviews... I may have gotten a bit carried away.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 15, 2018 at 14:33
  • @TheLethalCarrot Yeah, I think a bit carried away. The answer was perfectly fine originally, and you turned it into essentially your answer rather than Ayshe's. Sorry, because I can see you put a lot of excellent work into it, but that work really belongs elsewhere than in someone else's answer :-(
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 15, 2018 at 14:36
  • @Randal'Thor I'm not going to post my own answer just for adding quotes in for how it matches. I only expanded on their answer but I can see how it may have gone a bit too far, we shall let Ayshe decide if they want to keep my changes or not though an answer more explaining how it matches is better than a brief summary in my opinion...
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 15, 2018 at 14:37

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