Home > Intermediate Fiction, Senior Fiction > The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

August 30, 2021

Reading this book through the lockdown has been inspirational. It has made my days interesting and I have savoured every word. In fact I got too involved and fretted for the characters. I didn’t want to finish but all good things come to an end but fortunately this is not going to be the last. There are other adventures to come and I can’t wait.

It is a dystopian fiction novel written in the future about a Britain that has divided back into seven Kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex where this story is set plus 5 others. There has been a Cataclysm, a Great Dieing and Frontier Wars that have caused humans and animals to evolve in a variety of ways very quickly and reduced Britain to a mentality like that of medieval times. Small gated towns exist with faith Houses who control people. The woods are filled with huge bears and wolves and other animals who will eat people as good as look at them. The sea level has risen drastically and the rivers are full of creatures like man eating otters and sharks. The air is infested with birds who will attack and eat humans. There is no safe place.

To make matters worse some humans have evolved into cannabalistic creatures called the Tainted. They are excluded from civilisation and hunt humans who stray, eating them where they stand.

In the first few chapters we meet Scarlett a girl between 16 and 18 years old who can look after herself big time. She has a big knife, a gun and quick wits, she takes no crap, robs banks and in the first chapter disposes easily of four men who are trying to rob her.

While escaping after robbing a bank she finds an overturned bus and meets a boy of similar age to her called Albert Browne who has mental abilities that are astonishing. He can read minds but his behaviour is dominate by what he calls The Fear. He has escaped a mental hospital controlled by a devilish woman called Dr Calloway who has a crocodilian nose for weakness. She wants Albert back and the novel then becomes a chase with Albert and Scarlett joining forces to outrun their enemies.

It is totally thrilling with Jonathan Stroud’s descriptive prose enthralling the reader with its wit and story telling skill. Once you start this you will not put it down. You daren’t. Written in four parts with each part ending in a blaze of action.

Eoin Colfer describes this novel as “a classic in the making” and Rick Riorden describes Stroud as a genius. They are both right.

The best action adventure I have read for years. If you miss this you will kick yourself

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