Description For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys” - orphans owned by chimney sweeps - to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous.
Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived - and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come.
Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature - a golem - made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.
Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life - saving one another in the process. By one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.
A Chimney Sweep, Her Golem, and a House of 100 Chimneys
Review by: Morgan HobbesI picked up Sweep - The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier for a couple of reasons. One, the story sounded REALLY good, and two, I was looking for something that might appeal to my kids. The story of a chimney sweep and her golem set in London in the 1800s sounded too good to pass by, so I grabbed it and plugged in my earbuds.
The story flits between Nan's life, starting around six years old, to her slightly older self of around eleven. Nan is a chimney sweep, working for her horrid master Crudd. Eeking out an existence, she's the best in the business. Nobody climbs a chimney stack as she can.
Except maybe her rival in Crudd's gang - Rodger. He has his eye on the apprenticeship on offer, and he's none too keen on Nan getting it. A rather dastardly young lad who will do anything to get Nan out of the way.
Obviously, I don't want to get into spoilers, so what I will say is that the story is completely engaging. Characters you root for and ones to despise. The Dickensian world of the chimney sweeps, giving you a glimpse at the kids of lives they must have led.
Both heartfelt and heartbreaking at times, even though aimed at a much younger audience than the age bracket I fall into, this was a fantastic story to listen to. Maybe not entirely suitable for younger ones, since the lives and the sufferings of the young chimney sweeps could be challenging to learn about, depending on their nature. I know mine would benefit from being a touch older before getting into this one.
Narration by Sarah Coomes was perfect. Such a fantastic vocal talent, Coomes has one of those voices I can listen to for hours and get completely lost in. Indeed I did many times, listening until my earbuds charge ran dry. I made my way through this in only a handful of sittings, listening for hours at a time.
A beautiful tale filled with both sadness and hope. One that I'll listen to again and again. Hopefully, next time with my kids beside me so I don't have to enjoy it alone.