Sunday, 18 September 2011

Philip Pullman - The Adventures of the New Cut Gang - Book Review

  book cover of 

The Adventures of the New Cut Gang 

 (New Cut Gang)


Philip Pullman

  • Pages - 352
  • Published - By David Fickling Books
  • Date  - 1st September 2011
  • Age - 9+
  • Isbn: 978 0 857 560223                  
Thunderbolt, Benny, Bridie and Sharky Bob are a mixed bunch of vagabonds and urchins who come together to form the New Cut Gang in two comic tales of stolen silver, skulduggery and desperadoes.
Fake coins are turning up all over Lambeth and the finger of suspicion is pointing at Thunderbolt's dad - could he really be the forger? The crime-busting New Cut Gang come to the rescue!
And when just two clues - a blob of wax and a Swedish match - are discovered at the scene of a break-in, the children find themselves on the trail of an extremely cunning criminal.
Set in late Victorian London, these two action-packed thrillers have now been put together in a single volume - with new illustrations throughout from Horrible Histories illustrator, Martin Brown.

Back in the day before Philip Pullman was a household name he had already penned two short stories. These were published in the early nineties and were about the Adventures of the New Cut Gang. I actually read one of these short stories sometime later, but before they went out of print. Now, seventeen years on, The New Cut Gang is being brought back to life. The two original stories that were over looked many years ago are now being presented in one book and are available for us to read once more . . . . . . hooray!

The two stories are entitled Thunderbolt's Waxwork and The Gas Fitters' Ball, and are based around a group of kids who come together to form a local gang. They all have a common aim which is to solve crimes by following the clues within their investigative adventures.

Let me begin by introducing you to the gang members of:

  • Thunderbolt (otherwise known as Sam) who is the child with the brains and a little bit of brawn too
  • The Peretti twins (Angela and Zerlina) who are best described as 'angels of Satan'! They have the amazing talent of getting anybody to do exactly want they want 
  • Bridie, who not only has red hair but also the sensible motherly temperament and . . . .
  • Sharkie Bob, who is the little monster eater!

They are all highly likable and interesting characters. However, my favourite character from the motley gang is Benny. In my opinion, he let's his imagination run wild and his storytelling too! At times his ideas are very wacky and his actions are even more so. Therefore, he certainly adds a lot of interest to the storyline.

The stories are set in Victorian London which is a favourite period of mine. They portray the atmosphere from around that period including the detailed history and culture of London's East End. They are both touching tales full of period detail and fast-paced action.

Apparently Phillip intended to write half a dozen adventure stories in this series, but he never actually got them to publication because His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass etc) stopped him in his tracks. Whilst I think he can be forgiven, as these made him a global success, I do hope that he will now have the time to write additional adventures. I for one will be interested to continue following the gang's future adventures.

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