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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Action! Humor! Fantasy! This new series opener is a tour de force from international bestseller Jonathan Stroud. Scarlett McCain is a shoot-first ask-questions-later kind of outlaw. She scrapes by on bank heists, her wits—and never looking back. She’s on the run from her latest crime when she comes across Albert Browne. He is the sole survivor of a horrific accident, and against her bette…

Overall Book Review:

Finally!  A book that cannot be put down!  It has definitely been a while–so long in fact that I had forgotten what it was like to procrastinate everything in my life all for the sake of an irresistable book.  Ah, the joy of reading something completely magnetic.

Jonathan Stroud is back with a vengence in a new series for middle school and young adult readers.  Crammed with action scenes and set in a fantasy/dystopian/alternate version of England, the crowning jewels of this novel are the characters.  Scarlett is a capable and confident heroine and Albert Browne is her foil with his naivete and open nature; the two play well off of each other.  The villians are deeply evil and the supporting characters are quirky.  As ever with Mr. Stroud’s writing, the dialogue sparkles and there are ample dashes of humor throughout.  This is a fabulous start to a promising series.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  12 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names; 1 scatological word, 1 anatomical term.

Note:  Dystopian/Fantasy world and exclamations of “Gods” not tallied.

Violence/Gore:  Character wakes up next to 4 dead men; description of bloody rabbit taken from trap; threats at gunpoint upon several different occasions; brief scuffle, punching; character comes upon an accident with evidence of death by animals, etc., mention of blood, description of scene; attack by animal, animal killed, mention of blood; person says how they will die in a humorous way; grab individual by the throat; kill fowl for food; hit person with a stick; explosive material with intent to kill; character mentally recalls/lists violent deeds of past, brief; extended scene of pursuit with gunfire resulting in deaths, knife fight resulting in severe injury; flashback/recall of a scene of torture; injury described with mention of blood; thump on the head; report of whipping/mistreatment, brief; character knocked out; display of human skin outside of a town as a warning; person explains about where they burn people on a hill, whip offenders, etc.; character is knocked down with intent to capture, hit; implied violent death of many, vague details–incident referred to a couple of times that people were “in pieces”; listing of all the dangers and way someone could die; extended encounter and pursuit scene involving knives, shooting, death of individuals, explosions, destruction of property; report of a violent death; report that people shoot birds; recalled scene of torture; verbal and emotional abuse of a young person by a person of authority; fight with fantastical creatures, resulting in death of some; extended frightening scene; character comes upon a head in a pool of blood, brief; sounds heard of semi-human creatures eating people; fantastical creatures kill/eat other semi-human creatures; character slaps another on the face; extended scene of violence struggle, mention of blood, violent deaths, slapping of a little child; someone killed and body thrown into a room; verbal threats of death; extended fight and flight scene with harpoon, falls, gunshots, death, hitting, etc.; report of violent acts;

Sex/Nudity:  Passing comment about young lovers (which characters are not).

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, robbery, torture, emotional/physical/psychological/verbal abuse, mistreatment of children, cannibalism, murder, prejudice, slavery.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters drink alcohol; some scenes take place in taverns; character smokes a cigar; drugs are used to sedate and control (pills and needles).

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!