The Children Of Albion is a hard-hitting novel about children seeking an escape from the brutal reality of their upbringing. I can see it becoming a popular novel for young adults.
Eleven year old Robbie Terry lives on an inner city estate, a place run by tough Dean Amery and his goons. Robbie bunks off school, smokes cigarettes and steals. He cares for his mum who picks up losers at the pub and brings them home. To escape her cycle of needy depression, he’ll head to his ‘den’: an abandoned house.
One day Robbie finds another boy at his hideaway who calls himself Albion, and talks of King Arthur and Camelot. Barely able to read and write, streetwise Robbie is happy to make a new friend and escape for a few hours listening to Albie’s stories. When Robbie needs to leave home permanently, the pair strike up an odd but successful friendship: Albie with his grand plans to return old England to its former ways, and Robbie with his practical skills.
In time, they offer their place to other kids, some homeless, others also in need of escape. Their house becomes a place of shelter and safety for others, an escape from the abuse, neglect and selfish adults of the local area. It’s a hard way to survive; they thieve food, fags and booze from shops, cash and cards from handbags, like modern day Fagin boys. Through all this, Albie draws the kids in; with his odd brand of kindness, he has them following him as if he is the Pied Piper of Hamlin.
There is a raw, haunting feel to this book, mixed with a sadness that children face this in reality on our streets today. The law and social care systems have no real power, the kids all know that paperwork takes precedence over action. Robbie is our narrator, and the depiction of him is so real. Much of the time, you can see that all they want is the freedom to just be kids, to have fun and not care about where their next meal comes from, or who will beat them up and when. But when freedom isn’t available they stick to what they know; drink and drugs, the escape pattern they’ve been shown and is easily available.
This was a compelling read, I wanted to read on to find out what happened to these kids; were they sucked into the society they lived in or did they manage to fight their way out? Interestingly, there are plans to make this into a feature length film.
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In post-millennial England, the next generation are falling through the gaps of a very broken society. In the wasteland of a English sink-estate, where the adults are lost to drink, drugs, poverty and destructive relationships, the next generation run ferral, surviving day to day by any means possible.
Starved of food, love and affection, the children face a bleak future following in the crime-riddled footsteps of their parents, and their parents’ parents before them.
However, when the middle-class dreamer, drop-out, and revolutionary teen, Albion makes camp in one of the derelict houses, an unlikely friendship is struck between him and Robbie, a boy born of the estate who desperately longs for things to be different.
With dreams of establishing a modern-day Camelot, and refuge for those children let down by society, Albie and Robbie attempt to create a new and better world, but they soon discover the weight of a crown is a very heavy burden to bear, and the legacy of the last generation is a terrifying and consuming beast.
About the author
Jill Turner began writing as a three year old. What started out as little stories about horses and cats developed over the years into teenage novellas and romances, which are still in a bedroom drawer (and should probably stay there).
A love of writing was fulfilled by a very successful and fast-paced career as a Fleet Street journalist at The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, and The Daily Mirror among others. Working in journalism fed Jill’s interest in the individual human experience, and developed Jill’s storytelling abilities. The pursuit of journalism exposed Jill to many of the complexities, tragedies and socio-political contradictions of the human condition.
Jill now lives in the beautiful coastal countryside where she writes full time, still writing periodically for national press, and increasingly dedicating her time to fiction writing. She lives with a very clever little boy, who adds infinitely to her life.
A voracious reader, she is passionate about getting young people into literature and has worked as a mentor with Youth At Risk, and Fairbridge/ The Prince’s Trust and currently works in an alternative provision school for children and teenagers struggling in education.
When not working, she likes to be out on the beach with her son, or at the nearest riding stables.