Wow! This is a ride which needs a seat belt if, like me, you left the 'young reader' stage behind many years ago. `The Death Defying Pepper Roux' succeeds in defying reality in such a winsome way that I got happily lost in its Milligan-Secombe-Sellers-like world of wackiness, where no one is what he or she appears to be, and nothing is predictable.
`On the morning of his fourteenth birthday, Pepper had been awake for fully two minutes before realizing it was the day he must die.' So begins the first paragraph of this kaleidoscopic adventure by the brilliant Geraldine McCaughrean. Convinced of the macabre prophecy relayed to him by his saint-obsessed Aunt Mireille, the lad Pepper is both bewildered and disappointed when it fails, sparking his string of wild adventures across an ocean and through France and even a stint in the Foreign Legion, in company with some of the most memorable characters you'll encounter anywhere. But this is no childish story. The level of vocabulary, frankness of expression, depth of inner reflection, and the occasional hints at the moral ambiguities of some his associates put this story into a category which will probably suit those closer to the age of Pepper himself. This is not Richmal Crompton.
In `The Death Defying Pepper Roux' the author has rendered her vibrant imagination into this unique tale, set in a vaguely familiar and unidentified Present, yet so oddly substantial that you might believe it could all really have happened and that Pepper Roux lives on, daily defying death.