Don’t you love it when you read a novel and you feel like you’ve really stepped into its world? I certainly do. I also love it when I become emotionally attached to the characters. I desperately want to meet these boys, and the great thing is, I actually could meet them! ‘Dangerous Skies’ is the first novel by Brian James, it’s classed as middle-grade fiction, but a person of any age could enjoy.
The novel is set in the middle of war torn London, WW2 is in full swing and bombs’ are falling left, right and centre. Children are disappearing from Alan’s schoolroom as more and more families are devastated by the blitz. Alan and his best pal Tommy hardly know how to occupy themselves, until a peer named Wilkie gets them into big trouble. Alan and Tommy are soon pressured into joining a young gang of troublemakers and outcasts, led by teenage Duggie - a young Fagin for all intents and purposes. The boys are tasked with the illegal and dangerous job of scavenging goods from blitzed homes to sell on a kind of black market. As the boys become more entwined in Duggie’s illegal activities, they realise that the bombs aren’t the only thing they should be scared of. It’s a heart-warming story of courage, bravery and doing the right thing, no matter how scared you might be.
Although the relatively short novel is in the middle-grade age group, the language and topics are slightly older in my opinion. What makes it younger is the age of the young protagonist, Alan. But truthfully, anybody of any age could enjoy this novel. In actual fact I made my granny read it and she cried with pure delight at the nostalgic little novel. The cockney slang and the pure pluck that the characters possess reminds me of why I am proud to have been born in such a wonderful city. It is utterly beautiful from start to finish. Even if you aren’t normally fond of war stories or younger novels, I can guarantee you will enjoy the sheer backbone and courage of these young heroes. I’ll also note that the story is based on Brian James’s real-life experiences as a young lad growing up in blitzed London, which somehow makes this novel all the more enchanting.
Book review by Lauren Noding
Posted on 31/03/2017
by Sue Cawte filed under