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My daughter, Tallulah, was given a free book recently, when she started high school. I believe it is a scheme by the Book Trust to encourage teenagers to read. I am all for it, particularly as she chose to bring home the book Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones which I have picked up several times in book shops recently, and was itching to have an excuse to buy.

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We started reading this book in the car on our way to Wales, and finished it a week later. We were all completely gripped by it, including my husband, who doesn’t usually enjoy this kind of thing at all.

Wild Boy tells the story of a young, abandoned boy, considered a freak by everyone because he is covered in hair, like a wild animal. Left on the steps of a London work house as a baby, Wild Boy is shunned by everyone, kept separate from the other boys, who he fights with, and shown off as a freak for money by the superintendent of the workhouse, who eventually sells him to the circus.

Life in the circus is as brutal as it is in the Work House. Wild Boy spends most of his life alone, except for his friend, Sir Oswald, a hero of the battle of Waterloo, but who is now reduced to working as a circus freak, having lost both of his legs in the war.

Wild Boy has a lot of time to watch, and a lot of time to think, and these two things lead him to have incredible powers of deduction, which he is forced to use when a series of brutal attacks and murders sweep the fair ground, and he is put in the frame for the killing. Escaping with his unwilling ally, Clarissa Everett, a high wire artist and acrobat, Wild Boy attempts to clear his name.

This is a fantastic adventure story which grips you right from the beginning, and doesn’t really let go. It is brutal, and violent and full of disgusting details to delight the goriest child. There are bodies galore, as well as near death experiences, thrilling chases and mysteries at every turn.

We loved it.

It is a particularly good read for boys, as it is action packed from page one, although both my girls loved it too. It is pretty violent and there are lots of troubling descriptions of mutilations and body parts and dank, dripping sewers etc, so I wouldn’t recommend it for readers under ten unless you’re fairly sure they have strong stomachs and a thirst for horrors. It also contains quite a lot of swearing, although the strongest language is the use of the word ‘bloody.’ I don’t have a problem with it. Many parents do, so probably not one for the primary school library. Which is a shame.

This is the first of a series, and we are already eagerly awaiting the sequel; Wild Boy and the Black Terror.

The Wild Boy website is here, and there are plenty of tie in activities to explore.

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