The Boy Who Flew, by Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow, ISBN-10: 1788004388

Athan Wilde dreams of flight. When his friend, Mr Chen, is murdered, Athan must rescue the flying machine they were building together and stop it falling into the wrong hands. The machine could be worth a lot—perhaps even enough to take his family out of poverty—but keeping it safe puts his family in terrible danger. Athan takes to the glittering and treacherous rooftops of the city to evade frightening strangers who lurk in doorways, watching him, waiting to pounce. But can he do what Mr Chen could not? Can he make the machine fly?

One of the joys of being invited to speak at writing conferences is being introduced to books I wouldn’t normally read. Young adult fiction is not often on my reading list, and The Boy Who Flew is one of those serendipitous finds. Set in a time when even quite young children were expected to find gainful employment or perish, and in a city which suggests a wintery eighteenth century Bath, Hitchcock cleverly explores responsibility to family and the importance of self-sufficiency, resilience—and the help of friends—in learning to navigate the adult world. This is a thrilling adventure story, packed with suspense, and perfect for fans of Philip Pullman.

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