Wonderfully written story that highlights the harsh conditions of child chimney sweeps in Victorian London. The reality of the situation was not like Burt in Mary Poppins, but rather grim. Children as young as six were made to climb up chimneys to clean them with no safety measures and became stuck, fell, were burnt and often died very young. Sweep takes this history and weaves a tale of fantasy that is at times heartbreaking, inspiring and funny.
Nan Sparrow is 12 year-old chimney sweep that was raised by a kind master until the age of 5, but after his disappearance, is forced into the service of a cruel master. Her days are spent doing grueling work. While cleaning a chimney, she becomes stuck in a flue, and a fiery accident awakens a monster from the piece of lucky char that she keeps in her pocket. Nan befriends the monster and names him Charlie, they shelter in abandoned house to hide from her master. As Charlie grows, Nab must conceal him from the outside world and also discovers that he has a part to play as her protector.
Nan Sparrow is intelligent, brave and resourceful lead who becomes the glue that inspires an excellent supporting cast to change their lot in life. Through his imagination and research, author Jonathon Auxier creates a Dickensian universe that immerses the reader in Victorian London.
I recommend Sweep for young fantasy readers who are looking to break out of regular tropes of the genre. Be prepared, parts of this book had me book had me feeling the feels, your eyes might get a little misty reading it!