Do you believe in sin? Do you believe that your sin can mark you? This is what happens in Richard Robert’s superb book Wild Children.
Told in five ‘acts’ and from 5 different perspectives, we follow the story of six different children, each turned into a wild child by some unspecified sin. From the first girl, Jenny, seduced by a Wolf boy into running away to become wild, to a boy seeking to repent from his sins by consuming the misery of others, an almost angelic dove-child, two devoted brothers and a young priest ordered to help destroy the very thing he was becoming himself, Wild Children casts a spell over the reader which remains long after the end of the book.
The Wild Children are eternally young – they never grow up, although they can die – and are equally patronised by the rich and feared by the church. There are elements of this story which remind me of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy and, like that book, although the protagonists are children, the story is very adult and, at times, dark.
We are never told what the sin is or why the children take on some level of animal characteristics but when the book ends it leaves the possibility of another beginning and, possibly, a sequel.
Robert’s prose is lean and flowing and he successfully captures the different voices of each character’s perspective whilst still maintaining a cohesive voice for the entire book.
I loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author.