I really love Jenny Valentine and read two of her previous books within the space of a few weeks last year as I couldn't get enough of her. So I was very much looking forward to her latest offering, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight. But I was also a little afraid that high expectations would spoil my reading experience and I've been waiting for the perfect timing to get to this book. (What better opportunity than my themed month celebrating British authors?)
And while the book probably isn't quite what I expected, I still enjoyed it very much. It's a story about loneliness and families and of solving these two huge mysteries (what happened to the original Cassiel Roadnight and what happened to Chap before the story began) and the combination of all of those facts really kept my interest and made me want to read quicker in order to uncover all of this book's secrets.
At the start of the novel, we have this lonely boy, who refers to himself as 'Chap', who's been living rough on the streets for years, with nobody but himself to look after him. When he's mistakenly identified as missing boy Cassiel Roadnight, he decides to just go along with it and try on Cassiel's life for a bit of a change. And at first, all seems lovely - Chap now has all of these things he's never had before. A room of his own, a family who cares about him, a life and a history. But he also knows that they aren't really his, that he's just borrowing them for a time. Poor Chap rarely gets a chance to really enjoy all these luxuries without the constant threat and worry of being found out as a fraud. Secrets are uncovered and there's this constant threat of danger - a sinister edge to what may have happened to Cassiel and also the ever-present threat of exposure which really ramps up the excitement.
We're gradually told Chap's story and it hasn't been an easy childhood for him. He really has these high hopes of what life could be like if only he'd had what the original Cassiel didn't appreciate. A home and a family. There's such a sadness about this book but I really enjoyed being taken on this journey.