The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz

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The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A page-turning read set in Tudor England. Reasonably sound historically and with compelling characters it comes recommended by Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 978-1406305692

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Queen Elizabeth I met with her magician late one night and asked about the fate of a man she had known many years before. He was dead, but his son lived on. Meanwhile in the town of Framlingham Tom Falconer worked for the couple who had taken him in after his parents died. There was no love, or even affection, from them and when he was offered the chance of escape to London by a rich and aristocratic stranger he barely hesitated. Life was never going to be easy for the likes of Tom and before long he found himself alone in London trying to avoid Gamaliel Ratsey – the highwayman who would see him dead.

Anthony Horowitz found history boring when he was at school. It was a series of dates to be remembered and facts to be learned. It wasn't until he left school that he realised that history was actually a series of very good tales and The Devil and his Boy is a rollicking good story lightly coloured with historical fact. Many of the people in the story did exist – Moll Cutpurse was a famous thief and Gamaliel Ratsey – the son of Irish nobility – was the most famous highwayman of his day. The likes of the Queen or Will Shakespeare need no introduction from me as for all the other characters it matters little whether they were real or not.

I read the book in a just over two hours because it's an excellent story and I really did want to know what happened – and not just to Tom. Horowitz has the knack of being able to draw compelling characters in a few words and I really cared about what happened to them. Sixteenth century England (and particularly London) comes to life. It's no exaggeration to say that there are occasions when you can smell the settings.

There are anachronisms, occasionally in turns of phrase or the use of words such as lunch which would not come into common usage for a century or more – but Horowitz says that the mistakes are all deliberate and he's only put them in to keep the teachers happy. That's an excuse I feel inclined to borrow!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Queen Elizabeth I's magician was the fabled John Dee and you can meet him again in By Royal Command by Mary Hooper.

Buy The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz at

Buy The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz at


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