The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne (Scarlett and Browne #1)

Jonathan Stroud. Knopf, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-43036-1
After handily knocking over a bank to settle a debt, red-haired, gimlet-eyed Scarlett McCain—“no ties, no allegiance”—disappears into the woodland wastes between England’s Surviving Towns with a rucksack full of cash, her prayer mat and cuss-box, and “little to worry about.” When she comes across the aftermath of a terrible bus accident, however, she encounters in the vehicle’s toilet cubicle the incident’s sole apparent survivor: seemingly clueless youth Albert Browne, bony and bright-eyed. Scarlett begrudgingly agrees to accompany Albert to the next settlement, but the appearance of bowler-hatted trackers sets off a reluctant partnership between the cued-white protagonists that sees them pursued over land and sea across a postapocalyptic, flooded Britain that’s menaced by plague, enormous water monsters, ghastly cannibals called the Tainted, and Faith Houses “on the watch for any kind of deviation, be it physical or moral.” Some elements feel less sensitively rendered than others, but Stroud (the Lockwood & Co. series) expertly builds flawed characters, cahoots close and tender, and a fully realized setting in this rollicking series opener, employing arch phrasing, witty rapport, and quick pacing alongside the brutally rendered truths of a world intent on controlling outlaws of every type. Ages 10–up. Agent: Andrea Morrison, Writers House on behalf of Veronique Baxter, David Higham Assoc. (U.K.). (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2021
Release date: 10/05/2021
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 432 pages - 978-0-593-43037-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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