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Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle - Review

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Where did I get it? I got it through the Willoughby Book Club when I was a subscriber, way back in 2016. It's been waiting on my shelves since then and since I'm trying to read more books by black authors, I've been looking on my shelves to see what I already have. 

What's it about? It's the second book set in a neighbourhood in South Crongton (which I think is in London), but it is a standalone with some of the same characters. McKay is nearly fifteen and lives with his brother Nesta and their dad. His mum died a few years ago and he misses her. The family is poor and Dad is working lots of overtime to try to keep the bailiffs from the door. 

McKay's best friends are Liccle Bit, who is the main character in the first book, and Jonah. Bit has a huge crush on Venetia, and she needs his help. Her phone has been stolen by her ex boyfriend Sergio, and he also has some topless photos of her that he is threatening to post online (which is a crime! Especially when the person in the photos is under sixteen! Just so we're clear). Venetia asks Bit to go with her to Notre Dame, a neighbourhood the other side of North Crongton, to get her phone back. 

Bit asks McKay and Jonah to go with them. It's earlier in the week, and they decide they'll go on Friday after school. That evening, though, McKay's brother says he has to go underground for a little while. It turns out that a guy called Festus stole Nesta's bike, and Nesta hit him and he had to go to hospital. On Thursday night there's some unrest in the neighbourgood when a kid steals something from a local shop, meaning that there's police all over that night and the next one. At school, a kid they call Boy from the Hills overhears what they're doing. 

Venetia, Bit, McKay and Jonah set off on Friday night after school. They go to get Saira, Venetia's friend, and Boy from the Hills turns up too. They get the bus, and go to Sergio's house, and then all hell breaks loose, and most the rest of the book is about this one evening. I loved it for that, it is an epic adventure in its purest sense.

I liked McKay and wanted the best for him. I liked the stuff about his mum dying and his family situation. I loved the adventure and the six kids who went, and their friendships and their banter and how they all get to know each other more. I loved the plethora of characters they ran into and the night they had. I loved the neighbourhood. The book is written in vernacular and I really liked that too. 

What age range is it for? It skews as a younger YA for me, so I'm going to say from thirteen. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, most characters are black I think. Saira is from Syria and there's a really good bit where she explains how she ended up in England. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? They might be mentioned in passing but that's all 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, there's a bit of description of how McKay's mum died, but it's not graphic. There's a bit of violence too, which is a little big graphic but suitable for the book. 

Are there swear words? No - there's a lot of words that stand in for swear words, like "frick", but no actual swear words, which is why it skewed a bit younger to me. 

What criticisms do I have? Not many, to be honest. 

Would I recommend the book? Yep. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I have been meaning to get to it forever! 

What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it looks like the others in the series and I think it's eye-catching 

How many stars? Four out five! 

Where is the book going now? I'll keep it I think!

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