Children of the Furnace is set in the future in our own world which has been brought close to destruction after an environmental disaster. Out of the ruin emerges the Revout, an assembly of religious extremists who wish to rebuild the world. The multitude of children now without parents are taken in by The Redukayshan Centres, harsh and brutal places, where they are indoctrinated into the beliefs of the Revout and are used for labour in this rebuilding process.
Wil is discovered in an isolated settlement. Though he has no memory, he is marked by the tattoo which signifies that he is a member of a group –the Heaters- which has been thought to have died out but is now reviled and blamed for the damage to the world. He is taken to a Redukayshan centre where he is bullied and whipped and forced to learn the new beliefs. He makes friends, slowly regains his memory and comes to understand that he must find the Midwife, a missing woman who the Revout are desperate to trace, if he is to find out the truth about himself and the disaster which hit the world. At the same time, the children in the centre group together and stage a rebellion against the vicious Revouts.
This is a fast moving, multi layered, totally engrossing young adult’s novel. Told through from both Wil’s-and Leah’s- another child at the centre-first person perspective the narrative is skilfully structured. Though there is unfamiliar language and terms which can be quite daunting at the beginning of the novel, this becomes easier to follow as the stories unfold. There is quite a lot of violence so this book is recommended mainly for the older reader but it’s a stunning and engrossing read.
Reviewer: Paddy Richardson
Copy Press books, RRP $26.00