A book about fun, friendship, loyalty and redemption.
This is a completely delightful MG/YA book featuring 13-year-old Phineas, who is forced to escape a miserable existence as a butcher’s boy in late-Victorian Inverness, and go on the run. Phin meets many people, some lovely, some less so, and the reader is carried along in his adventures. This is a story that goes with such a gusto you really don’t want to put the book down – or want it to end.
I loved everything about this book – the engaging characters, not only Phin himself but the travelling entertainers he falls in with; the delightful background of what it is like to run an old-fashioned Punch and Judy show; the setting of Victorian Scotland. The story has great pace, with the tension nicely maintained. The reader is rooting for Phin and his friend Mr Robertson, willing them to escape ‘justice’. Gradually we find out what has happened to bring them to where they are now, which gives an added layer to the story.
I won’t say more about what happens along the way, in order to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say the story is both informative and dramatic. And has a very satisfying denouement!
A book about fun, friendship, loyalty and redemption, Punch touches on some of the darker things in life, but does so lightly and shows us that for all the bad or weak characters out there, there are so many more kind and strong ones.
Review by Gill-Marie Stewart
Gill-Marie writes YA mystery/romances as Gill-Marie Stewart. As Gilly Stewart she also writes women’s contemporary fiction. The first book in her YA series about George and Finn is Music and Lies (try the first chapter here).