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Children of the Furnace

By Brin Murray

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Book review written by Natasha Derry, Year 12 Dean (2019), English Teacher, Drama Teacher

One of the interesting propositions of Brin Murray’s post climate change apocalyptic novel, Children Of the Furnace is that children are made to work in appalling conditions to hopelessly rectify a situation that is not of their creation. This resonates with how the world appears to be heading. A world changing for the worse quicker than thought because of human made climate change. It is the young generation who are inheriting this and will shoulder all the sadness, desperation and terribleness that is the going to inevitably happen.

It took awhile to become immersed in the world of Heaters, Revouts and Sekkers and at times the mystery of it all was frustrating. It is true that the writer should not spell out to the reader leaving them to discover the magic for themselves but with Children of the Furnace the beginning much felt too difficult to decipher but perseverance paid off. 

Soon I was gripped by the world that Brin Murray has created out of our present world, this was all due to the engaging voice of Wil Shirwud one of two narrators. Wil, sheltered for much of his life, discovers the world of Sekkerland and Southem along with the reader and his own very personal take on what he sees and experiences is delightful despite the horrific situation he finds himself swiftly and reluctantly immersed in. 

The voices of adults are muted in this novel and events are seen and related solely from the viewpoints of two teenagers, Leah as well as Wil. Since they are the ones that are completely under the power of adults, many cruel, it is fitting it is thus. Normally young adult fiction is not my go to but in the case of Children Of The Furnace I have made exemption and am already contemplating buying the second in the series. Brin Murray has written a powerful novel that that is gripping, chilling and sad, terribly sad. But Wil Shirwud shows there is always hope, that it sits with the youth and I cannot wait to see how the rest of his journey goes.

This book is a must read for people of all ages but be aware the imagined world of our future is not a nice one. It takes Will Shirwud and his goodness to navigate it. To follow is Wil’s take on hell, “Reckon his hell and damnation stuff is as bigger lie as all the Heater talk, but if it were true he’d be headed straight there as sure as eggs is eggs”.  Just wonderful; what a boy and what a novel!

Murray, B. (2017). Children of the Furnace.

Book review written by Natasha Derry, Year 12 Dean (2019), English Teacher, Drama Teacher