Carnival Of The Lost by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by Sam Usher

Publication Date: 17 February 2022

The Blurb

Sheba the wolf girl joins an unusual troupe of performers that includes Pyewacket, a witch’s imp; Gigantus the giant and Sister Moon, a knife thrower. For the first time in her life she feels she might make true friends, and learn a real stage craft. But soon that’s not all she has to think about . . .

Children are being sucked into the Thames and there have been strange sightings of a mechanical monster. The carnival troupe know first-hand that looks only tell half a story – they become determined to find these forgotten children. Perhaps they will unravel the mystery that has defied even the law!

Cover and internal illustrations by Sam Usher

The Review

Penny Dreadful meets Steampunk in this fast-paced, chilling mystery, set in the slums of Victorian London.

When Sheba is bought by Mr Plumpscuttle, she’s excited at leaving her cage on the pier behind and exploring the wonders that London offer. She quickly learns though, that life won’t be all that different; she’ll still be gawked at by paying customers, because she’s a wolf-girl. In London, however, she’s not alone. The rest of the Peculiars consist of Sister Moon, Monkey Boy, Gigantus and Mama Rat.

The Peculiars aren’t just a bunch of curiosities though, they’re also adept at using their unique skills to solve mysteries that no one else is interested in. Mudlarks are disappearing from the banks of the Thames, and when Sheba discovers one of the snatched children is her friend, Till, she vows to do everything she can to find her and the other missing children, before whatever is taking them strikes again.

Evocatively written, the stench rises from the page as the fog swirls down, creating a dark, gothic backdrop for the characters who each have their moments to shine. Sheba is as intelligent as she is vulnerable, Sister Moon is as quick witted as she is on her feet, and Monkey Boy is disgracefully, yet disarmingly childish and cheeky throughout. The villains are cruel and ruthless, with just a hint of Frankenstein about them.

Sam Usher’s stunning double page black and white illustrations bring to life the murky world that Kieran’s eclectic range of characters inhabit.

Messages of family, friendship and being yourself are deftly woven throughout, with plenty of lighter moments to ease the tension, if only momentarily before the action packed climax. The first in a series, I can’t wait for more.

Great for fans of:

Huge thanks to Faber for sending me a copy and inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.

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