High adventure from a master storyteller about one boy’s attempt to fend for himself among cruel orphan masters, corrupt magistrates, and conniving thieves.
In the seaside town of Melcombe Regis, England, 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes to find his father missing and his house flooded by a recent storm. He’s alone in his ruined home with no money and no food. Oliver’s father has left behind a barely legible waterlogged note: he’s gone to London, where Oliver’s sister, Charity, is in trouble. Exploring damage to the town in the storm’s aftermath, Oliver discovers a shipwreck on the beach. Removing anything from a wrecked ship is a hanging offense, but Oliver finds money that could save him, and he can’t resist the temptation to take it. When his crime is discovered, Oliver flees, following the trail of his father and sister. The journey is full of thieves, adventurers, and treachery--and London might be the most dangerous place of all.
In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi mixes high adventure and short, page-turning chapters with a vivid historical setting featuring a cast of highwaymen, pickpockets, and villainous criminal masterminds.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2017
With dry wit and a strong Dickensian flavor, this first installment in Avi's Oliver Cromwell Pitts saga has an 18th-century British boy finding misfortune everywhere he turns. The adventure begins with a flood shaking 12-year-old Oliver awake in his home in Melcombe Regis, "a tenth of a mile from the sea." Wading through the waterlogged rooms of his three-story house, Oliver discovers that his father is missing. The only clue to Mr. Pitts's whereabouts is a drenched and almost illegible note that indicates he has rushed off to London to save Oliver's sister from a disastrous situation. Left behind with no money and an evil man threatening to send him to the poorhouse, Oliver knows his prospects are dim. In the days that follow, they grow even dimmer as he endures a string of captures, risky escapes, and dangerous run-ins with strangers and family members. Every cliffhanger-ending chapter will leave readers on the edge of their seats, wondering how Oliver will manage to survive his latest dilemma. Brimming with fast-paced action, evocative settings, and villains, this book reveals yet another side of Avi's talent. Ages 8 12.