Saturday 13 September 2014

The Devil and his Boy

The Devil and his Boy by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781406357684
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Anthony Horowitz believes that teaching history to children has to be fun. In The Devil and his Boy, he has chosen the year 1593 and Queen Elizabeth 1 to prove that learning history can be an exciting adventure.

The Queen is sixty years old. She has secrets about her past that she wants answers to. The wizard, John Dee, is the only one that can give them to her.

Tom Falconer, a thirteen year old orphan, is a slave to a heartless couple. When the stranger, Sir William Hawkins comes to take him away, he has nothing to lose. Things go wrong and Hawkins is murdered by Ratsey, a notorious highway man. Tom escapes towards London, and is saved from death by the thief Moll Cutpurse.

These main characters’ lives are twisted together in a thrilling mystery that involves Tom’s real identity. The story includes the young William Shakespeare, the Rose Theatre, and a troupe of mysterious actors who are not what they seem. All this is plaited in with conspiracy and betrayal in the Queen’s court.

I sped through this terrific mystery novel. Readers of all ages will learn a vast amount about early England, people’s way of life and early death, poverty, and how orphans were used and abused by unscrupulous people cloaked as protectors, to make money.

Fast-paced and absorbing, the talented Horowitz has made history interesting and entertaining just as he set out to do.


  1. Anything by Anthony Horowitz is likely to be good value, though his regular readers may be disappointed at no fantastical elements. History SHOULD be fun, but try teaching it in a classroom some time, with the admin breathing down your neck to make sure you teach ONLY what's on the "scope and sequence" document! It's okay for Anthony H, he doesn't have to do that.

  2. Hi Sue,

    Hats off to teachers like you trying to teach history and encourage a love of history too. Hoping that books like these can help the process despite all the boxes that teachers need to tick!



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