Busher’s début novel opens in Victorian England, in the year 1848. Her evocation of dark streets populated by orphans and petty thieves is loaded with a sense of horror and fear, so that when young street child Ginny runs into the sophisticated grown up Antonia, the reader suspects that it will not end well. Both Ginny and her friend and protector, Theo, have unusual gifts. Ginny’s ribcage is a birdcage which houses a bird named Blue, while Theo can reveal a person’s future cause of death. This makes them dearly wanted by Antonia’s employer, Badblood, who wishes to display them in his circus of ‘freaks’. Joining them are privileged siblings Archie and Millie, who can read thoughts. Escape is attempted but denied, and the children are brought across the Irish Sea where their ghosts appear to a boy called Rua, one hundred years later.
This is a thrilling and atmospheric read, full of memorable characters and a fast-paced, gripping plot. There are shades of American Horror Story (sanitised of course!) and Lemony Snicket, with an original story full of twists, quirky characters and enough tension to keep readers at the edge of their seats. Highly recommended to readers of 9+