Carnegie Medal winning author Tanya Landman brings to life a little-discussed period of twentieth century British history in this short novel published by Barrington Stoke. Life in the East End of London is tough in the 1930s. Jobs are scarce, money is tight and there are wars and rumours of wars across the world. And it’s not only in Germany that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Into this cauldron steps Oswald Mosley, wealthy, powerful and divisive.
At the centre of the story is a group of children living in a Stepney slum. They’re a tight-knit group led by the charismatic Nathan but Fascism is powerful and reaches even here. Siblings Elsie and Mikey are inadvertently caught up in some early violence and are fortunate to escape as lightly as they do. Young as they are, they know they have choices to make. Will they choose to side with Nathan who is fiercely opposed to the British Union of Fascists or will they throw in their lot with Harry, Nathan’s erstwhile second-in-command, and his Blackshirt friends?
As ever, Tanya tells a gripping story which sits lightly on careful research. Sara Mulvanny’s cover illustration, repeated within the book, keeps in readers’ minds the violence described. And Tanya brings to life a complex period of British history in an accessible way for young teenagers, with well developed characters and places.