Review by The Mole
Oy Yew is a young waif who cannot remember where he came from or what his name is. He wanders the streets living off the smell of a bakery while not being noticed. One day, however, he is noticed, by children who catch him and sell him to Jeopardine, a factory owner. Oy now finds out what it's like to be noticed, to be spoken to and to have people who are concerned for his welfare, albeit only other waifs. It's not long before he is sent, along with a couple of other waifs, to work in the factory owners house.
When waifs reach a certain height they are released from service and sent "home". But in this household because food is scarce and accidents are rife it takes a long time for the waifs to reach the required height - if they live that long.
Jeopardine soon notices that Oy is different to other waifs and takes a special interest in him. Then accidents start to threaten Oy but somehow Oy seems to live a charmed life.
Oy Yew is a story described as crossover aimed at 9 to 90 and it certainly works (although I'm not 90 yet!). A story of slavery, abuse, treachery, kindness and friendship also steeped in adventure, suspense and danger. It encapsulates much that is bad in the world and contrasts that with so much that is good.
The main characters are the waifs who are all aged in the 7-12 age bracket (although age is not something they discuss - it's height that matters) and they are a mixed set of girls and boys, some likeable some positively not so. For the younger capable reader this has everything they could want in a book, for the older reader it works equally well.
As book 1 of a trilogy called The Waifs of Duldred (Duldred is Jeopardine's estate) we can reasonably safely assume that all will not go as the waifs have planned at Duldred.
Longlisted for the Times/Chicken House prize for children's fiction - I thoroughly enjoyed this well crafted story.
When I come to write these reviews I always wonder have I said enough? Is there more I should add? With this in mind let me finish with these words.... read this book!
Publisher - Mother's Milk Books
Genre - Children's/Adult crossover, dystopian