Author: Rob Lloyd-Jones
Finished on: 3 August 2016
Where did I get this book: One of the recommendations for my daughter from the Forum Bookshop in Corbridge
A love of reading is the best gift you can give your child.
A bold statement, you might say. There are many passions that can enrich a life. Why not cycling, or climbing, or basket weaving? Obviously the honest answer is because I am not mad about cycling, or climbing, or basket weaving. I am writing this and I am biased.
But bias aside, a very special thing about giving your child the gift of bookworm-dom is that it means they need never, ever be bored. Reading is portable and fits in amongst the ‘other stuff’ of life. A good book in your bag means a delay, a setback, a situation where you are waiting for something that is outside of your control – these all become opportunities to seize and get through a bonus chapter or two.
Last Wednesday was not the best day of my life. I was in hospital for surgery. Lots of anxiety and loads of waiting around. A toxic combination of worry and boredom. Rubbish.
But no. Not rubbish. Because I had Rob Lloyd-Jones’s Wild Boy on hand. This book was perfect. A weightier literary tome might have taken a while to get going, allowing me to become distracted and let in a bit of that old anxiety. But not this book. The story goes from zero-100 mph in one page flat. By page two we’re being introduced to characters with appearances as irresistible as the following:
The showman leaned forward, revealing his face in the shadow of his crooked top hat. It was a terrible face, ridged with so many scars he looked like he’d been sewn together from patches of skin. There were whip marks, knife cuts and scratches from nails. There were bite marks and burn marks and cuts from a saw. One long gash ran like purple warpaint over his bony nose.
Take a long as you like love, I’m fine sitting here all day.
It’s a fantastic story. A combination of Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein, with some good old fashioned gore thrown in. The characters are great, and there are some real surprises as the plot twists and turns towards its final conclusion. I remember saying this when I reviewed The Ruby In The Smoke, but it feels like tales of over the top adventure are only written for children now, which is a real shame. Do let me know if you know of any writers penning good swashbuckling stories for adults these days. I would love to find some (although not buy their books obviously, nooo.)
So, thank you to Lloyd-Jones for keeping me entertained. (I may even have stayed up until 1am to finish it, after having had a general anaesthetic – that’s how gripping it was.)
And that’s why, if you teach your children to love books, then even a potentially horrible day can end up being a brilliant one spent having fabulous adventures in the company of a glittering cast of circus freaks. Tell me that’s not better than basket weaving.