Rob Lloyd Jones
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Murder mystery meets carnival flair in a rollicking Victorian adventure centered on a boy with a unique appearance — and unique gifts.
In the seedy underworld of Victorian London, a boy is born and abandoned. Snatched up by an unscrupulous and abusive showman, Wild Boy, covered in hair from head to toe, becomes a sideshow freak. Isolated from other children and wickedly abused by the cruel master who bought him, Wild Boy becomes an avid observer, developing Sherlock Holmes–like deductive skills. Although he is tormented and insulted, kicked and spat at, his quick mind takes in everything he sees. When a murder occurs at the fair, Wild Boy is hastily accused. Can he use his powers of deduction to save himself? And will the talented and spunky young acrobat Clarissa be with him — or against him? Readers will be swept along by the cinematic pace, immersed in the vivid historical setting, and gripped by suspense as they wait to find out if a better fate could possibly await someone so very different.
cesspits. The filth of the street percolated down. It nudged at the ceiling of an ancient sewer, crept through a crack in the crumbling mortar. It hung from the bricks in a single fat drop. Then it fell and landed — pat — on the head of a small boy covered in hair. Wild Boy opened his eyes. Everything was black. Not a crack of light anywhere. He was lying on his back on what felt like wet cloth. He heard dripping water, although his mouth was dry and tasted like mold. He extended a foot
didn’t even know this new victim. Anger boiled through him. Just because he was a freak, everyone believed that he was guilty. Unable to control himself, he grabbed one of the soup bowls and hurled it against the wall of the underground chamber. He leaned over the table, swearing and pulling the hair on his face. “Finished feeling sorry for yourself?” Clarissa said. “No, I ain’t,” Wild Boy spat. “Leave me alone, will you?” “I will not! My name’s at that house an’ all, you know? And you’re
hall. “I heard what you said to Miss Everett,” Marcus said. “You wish to use the machine upon yourself. That could indeed be an effective way of escaping your predicament. But Miss Everett is correct too. The machine is as likely to destroy you as it is to save you. Almost certainly your mind will never function in the same way again.” Wild Boy looked up at the colossal wheels of the Gentlemen’s machine. Clarissa’s words kept ringing in his head, but he tried to forget them and remember how
just like her father and her mother. He couldn’t do that! Another few steps and she came to a door. She felt a breeze coming from underneath. There had to be a window on the other side. She was proud of that bit of thinking — better than any he’d have done in the circumstances. He’d have started swearing and getting angry. She took out her picks and unlocked the door. He couldn’t do that either. The door creaked open. Murky morning light cast a window-shadow on a long mahogany table. Antique
killings?” Marcus limped forward on his cane. “You are a suspect. After all, you knew about Wild Boy’s abilities.” “When I was in that cage,” Wild Boy explained, “you said to me, I’m told you can see things no one else can.” “Ha! That all the evidence you got?” “No, I got plenty more. See them marks in the sawdust? If you didn’t know they was from your crutch, you might think they looked like marks from a cane. And you were an acrobat once, weren’t you? You’re trained to make high jumps, just