The author has researched her backdrop very well, and the atmospheric sights and sounds of the time are both vivid and captivating. Readers will smell the dirty streets and close-living of urban London, revel in the summer splendour of the finest country houses and then flinch when the harshness of life for the poorest souls is revealed in uncomfortable detail.
For in the late 1700s your circumstance of birth meant everything. Toby and Aaron may both find themselves living at Captain Thomas Coram's Hospital for parentless children, but their histories are as far apart as they could possibly be. Toby has been rescued from a life of slave labour in a faraway country; Aaron is the illegitimate son of the heir to a large country estate. They are watched over by Mish--a simple soul who has been with them since their arrival. His devotion to them is absolute, but his motives are not altogether straightforward. Could this curious man really be Meshak, the son of a wicked child-killer who was hanged at the gallows for his crimes?
Coram Boy is a glorious web of changing fortunes and subtle intrigues. There is tragedy and corruption, hope and evil. Sometimes brutal and sometimes unceasingly bleak, the genre of historical fiction has rarely been this good. It's undoubtedly the kind of book that wins awards. (Age 12 and over) --John McLay