Inspired by a true story. It's 1940, and Joseph has been packed off to stay with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no great fondness for children. To Joseph's amazement, she owns the rundown city zoo where Joseph meets Adonis, a huge silverback gorilla. Adonis is ferociously strong and dangerous, but Joseph finds he has an affinity with the lonely beast. But when the bombs begin to fall, it is up to Joseph to guard Adonis's cage should it be damaged by a blast. Will Joseph be ready to pull the trigger if it comes to it?
When the Sky Falls is a thriller from start to finish. The first lines set the mood for the story. It's a dark tale about survival in the most difficult of circumstances. How we make connections with people we don't get along with and how even when all seems lost there is something to cling on to. It's also a fantastic story, one of the best set in World War Two.
Phil Earle is already a brilliant storyteller, but this raises the bar. Touches of Robert Westall (Machine Gunners) add up to push this story screaming through the blitz. Joseph, whose mother is killed in an air raid in the north is sent to the south to live with a woman he has never met. A woman whose distain for children is deep. Mrs F runs a battered zoo with scraggy animals and little cheer. It also has a prize gorilla, one that Joseph creates a bond with.
I can imagine this book will be on the shelf of primary schools throughout the UK. It deserves to be read to open mouthed children for entertainment. A chilling story that had me in tears at the end, yet at the same time feeling hope.
This book ticks so many boxes to me. One of the standout releases this year and one you'll go back to again and again. Five stars all the way.