Life for Eel is difficult as he tries to survive the streets of London as an orphan, doing odd jobs and being a “mudlark” who searches along the River Themes for trinkets to sell. With a cruel man after him, no parents to protect him, and a little brother he pays lodging for, life is worse than for most 13 year olds. And then an outbreak of cholera (“the blue death”) occurs the streets of his friends and community.
Together with the good doctor, Eel uses his wits and familiarity with the locals to try to help the doctor learn more of the disease and how it spreads. Happy to have a safe place – even though it’s a shed – and two meals a day, Eel feels important in trying to protect his neighbors as he learns the ways of medicine and science. After losing a few friends he is even more focused with Doctor Snow. Can Eel get past his station as a mudlark and help the good doctor? Will Henry remain safe?
I love a good historical fiction, and this doesn’t disappoint. There is action until the end and things get wrapped up quite nicely as many juvenile books do. The reader is even lucky enough to have author’s notes at the end and learn more about the mid 1800’s, this real epidemic, and some of the real people – like Doctor Snow.