Robin Scott-Elliot is a writer and sporting journalist for both television and the Sunday Times. His first children’s novel, The Tzar’s Curious Runaways, will be published by Everything with Words in October 2019. I know it's a long time to wait but it's definitely worth telling you about now. The book is supported by an amazingly inviting and attractive book cover. It really captures the story inside.
The story is set in Russia (1725) against the backdrop of the court of Peter the Great. It's a fascinating time in history; a vastly enchanting place, a land full of stories and a great place for exploration. As you turn the first pages, you are introduced to the very well written and endearing main character, Katinka Dashkova, or Kat to her handful of friends.
Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the dwarf are very different. In fact, they are part of Peter the Great's Circus of Curiosities. The story starts with a deadly game of hide-and-seek as we soon learn that the Tzar is dead and the characters must flee the Winter Palace. Otherwise, they could face imprisonment or a gruesome death. This sets the fantasy ripples of terror and peril as the Tzar's Circus of Curiosities try to escape the Winter Palace. What will they do and how will they escape?
The adventure takes the reader through a web of fantasy with such a brutal narrative. Every page is filled with wonderment and anticipation that leaves you on tenterhooks. The reader is instantly and easily transported to another world. However, it's a hostile landscape filled with snow-capped icy mountains, haunting great hulking forests and deadly wolves. Armed with a supposedly magical map and courage, the story takes the reader on the ultimate journey of a lifetime. The characters have to cross the vast and deadly landscape across the Steppe and to the Ural Mountains. However, will they get there before they are hunted down and re-captured?
This is a fantastic book that stops time as you inhale the fantasy adventure that feels like reality. It's a perilous journey featuring extremely brave children. All of whom have found themselves treated as societies outcasts. However, this journey is their bid for freedom as their lives are at stake. The characters work together with bickering and laughter which definitely amuses the reader. The characters stay true to their individual personalities whilst fighting their own personal battles. This certainly gives the story a leading edge which works in harmony with the ongoing narrative.
This has to be one of the best books that I have read this year - hence the particularly early review. It's a poignant and breathtaking rampage of storytelling goodness. If you dare to believe then you dare to become. I believe this could become a future classic. It's a journey of heart and soul with one of the most interesting sets of individual characters that you will find in children's literature. The story was an absolute joy to read - full of nonstop action/adventure, humour, and friendships. It's a great historical insight into a place and time so different from the here and now. Pop it on your pre-order list NOW.