By Deborah Hopkinson
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Historical Fiction, 249 p.
Eel is a homeless orphan in London, 1854. He works odd jobs to support himself and his little brother. All the while he must avoid his evil stepfather who wants to turn him and his little brother into beggars and burglars. When cholera strikes in his neighborhood he is enlisted by the famous doctor, John Snow, in a desperate effort to find the cause of the epidemic. This interesting historical fiction is based on an actual outbreak of cholera that lead to the discovery of how the disease is transmitted. The character of Eel is fictional, but many of the other characters are based on real people. Hopkinson includes carefully researched detail about life Victorian life, and demonstrates, through the character of Dr. Snow, the process of careful scientific investigation. The book contains a good deal of useful information set within an interesting plot with likeable characters, that only occasionally waxes didactic.