When I heard the descriptions of this novel by Jill Turner, a member of our South West Writers Directory, as ‘the Lord of Flies for modern times,’ I knew I just had to read it. The aforementioned has become a classic of the literary canon for its presentation of children in fiction and I would suggest that Turner’s novel has the potential to become a classic in its own right.

 

Set in a sink-estate – a kind of microcosmic world where the struggles and strains of the modern world are magnified and intensified- Children of Albion tells the story of children who have become lost: some physically, some emotionally, but all of them living on the edges of life.

 

The outlook for these children looks so bleak that they escape to a world of dreams, wherein kingdoms of old (Camelot in particular) are invoked and stories and the dreams they inspire, help children survive. That was an overarching theme of this novel for me – one of survival. However, in a way that differed from William Golding’s novel – this fight for survival was underpinned by the touching, tender and overwhelmingly hopeful friendship of Albion and Robbie and characters to whom one could relate. Whilst at first their bond seems unlikely, soon it becomes clear that these two depend upon each other to get by. In a society where right and wrong seems to have fallen by the wayside and there is no one to look out for the children, it is Robbie and Albie who must provide the other children they meet and befriend with some sense of hope for the future.

 

A novel unafraid to explore the sadness and emotional turmoil that these children face, there are also moments of overwhelming humour which remind the reader that these are in fact children and that children have a very particular outlook on life – something which cannot help but colour the tale here in a very refreshing way. A novel that could be enjoyed by children but will also have striking crossover appeal, Children of Albion tells a story that transcends time and place and really provokes thought – what has been done in the past? What is happening now and how can we change that? A truly relevant and topical novel, Turner’s narrative ensures that continued discussion occurs, long after the last page has been turned.

 

A thoroughly recommended read, Children of Albion is available now from Little Bird.