Song of the Slums, by Richard Harland

‘I can’t do this,’ she whispered to Verrol. ‘They’re not even proper drumsticks.’
‘You can. You have to.’ His handsome features were drawn and taut.
Astor took her seat on the upturned box, and stared at the kegs, cans and pots before her. It was impossible. She had never played percussion in her life. But clearly Verrol thought this was their only chance to join the gang.

Once she had the hang of the drums, she began to experiment with the timbre of different pots and pans. But there was something missing.
‘Put more energy into it. Harder! Stronger!’ Verrol was almost pleading. ‘Play for your life!’

17-yearold Astor isn’t exactly delighted that her step father has arranged a marriage for her, but at least a marriage of convenience offers her a way out of her unhappy home life. The trouble is, it isn’t a marriage she’s been signed up for, but a place as a governess to three obnoxious, unteachable children. Tricked by her stepfather and abandoned by her mother, Astor has no one on her side except for Verrol, the servant assigned to her. She will have to make do until she can figure a way to a better life.

Astor has no idea that her life can get worse, but she finds herself fleeing her new home with Verrol, and fighting for survival on the streets, where her music training may be the only thing that keeps her alive.

Song of the Slums is a fabulous fantasy novel from the creator of Worldshaker and Liberator. Set in the same alternative Victorian World which will be comfortably familiar to steampunk fans, though billed as ‘gaslight romance’, the story is filled with action, twists and turns, and a plot line which shows that good can triumph. Astor’s growth as a character endears her to the reader, and the supporting cast is strong.

Great for fans of steampunk, fantasy and simply great reads.


Song of the Slums

Song of the Slums, by Richard Harland
Allen & Unwin, 2013
ISBN 9781743310052

Available from good bookstores or online.

Roland Harvey's Big Book of Christmas

Kids love Christmas, but many children don’t know a lot about the traditions behind the celebration of Christmas. In this child-friendly book, Roland Harvey explores the origins of the Christmas feast, from the story of the first Christmas, to the selection of the date and more, before exploring the different ways that Christmas is celebrated around the world. There are traditional and more modern recipes from each region, for children to test out.

In the second part of the book, there are a wide range of Christmas activities for kids to try out – including making simple gifts and decorations and games to play on and around Christmas. There are also the words and musical notation for a range of Christmas songs, and the bonus of a sheet of gift tags.

This informative number would be a great offering in the lead up to Christmas, and would also be a wonderful classroom tool for exploring Christmas traditions.

Roland Harvey's Big Book of Christmas

Roland Harvey’s Big Book of Christmas, by Roland Harvey
Allen & Unwin, 2008

This book can be purchased from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.