Kid’s Book Review: The Boy in the Smoke

Kid’s Book Review: The Boy in the Smoke

About the Book and Author

An unusual and thought-provoking time-slip story about a friendship between two boys from different periods in time by author Rachel Faturoti.

Isaiah always has an easy smile and smart answer for his teachers. He’s good at fixing things and making people happy. But ever since Mum left and Dad got ill, it’s been getting harder to keep all that up. To not let his friends know they’re struggling. To keep believing things will get better…

Then Isaiah meets the boy in the smoke, a boy he connects with through a forgotten fireplace in his tower block. A boy from the past with a mystery to solve, who desperately needs Isaiah’s help.

Perhaps they can help each other…

The Boy in the Smoke
Rachel Faturoti

Rachel Faturoti is a YA and children’s fiction writer, editor, and poet with a passion for broadening the scope of authentic Black representation in YA and children’s fiction. She believes it’s important for readers to see themselves represented well in stories. Rachel is the author of Sade and the Shadow Beasts, also published by Hachette.


Book Review

this book is unique... I enjoyed it immensely

The Boy in the Smoke by Rachel Faturoti is a very interesting book. It focuses on many important subjects such as the mistreatment of children during Victorian times, and poverty in the UK. I have not read a book quite like this before, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The book is set in Shepton in the present day, but time appears to be faulty, because a strange fireplace in the basement of the main character, Isaiah, means he is able to communicate with a boy from the Victorian era. They develop a friendship, helping each other throughout the book.

My favourite character is the teacher Mr Paterson because of all the jokes he makes. He is also a very kind and thoughtful character, who I think helps Isaiah the most during the story.

An important issue in the book is the way children were treated during the Victorian times. This is often referred to by Jacob. The children received beatings, were made to work in bad conditions and often died of illnesses. Another problem the author looks at is the fact that Isaiah’s father is poor. It is a good way of contrasting Victorian times with the problems that people face with living in poverty today. The two boys’ lives show that poverty is still a real problem today and that although it isn’t as bad as it was in Victorian times, there are many similarities and we should be aware of the fact that people still need help with money.

I wondered if the author had been influenced by some of the problems Dickens wrote about in his books. Mainly because poverty and child maltreatment were major parts of many of his stories and he was writing them to try and change the way that society worked. By including a Victorian character, the author makes a connection with the past.

I really liked this book, and would say it is aimed at ages 11-14 years. Usually I recommend a book you would like after reading the book I am reviewing, but I think this book is unique.

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Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Ivan
  • Age: 12 years
  • Likes: origami, pizza and drawing
  • Dislikes: peas and Donald Trump
  • Favourite Book: Gargantis by Thomas Taylor
  • Favourite Song: Space Oddity by David Bowie
  • Favourite Film: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince