Published: 28/10/2014
ISBN: 9781784620158
Format: Hardback



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Mosquito Mansion and my Misadventures in Mudland
by Christopher Hedgethorne

Twelve year old Alexander Drabb, who prefers to be called Sandy, believes he has been sent to the strange land of mud to help run the sugar plantation, nicknamed Mosquito Mansion, of which his Uncle George is the manager. Finding that he was not wanted where he came from and not especially wanted where he has been sent, he seeks the friendship of Quaneva, a girl slave a little older than himself. Though Sandy is unaware of it, his freedom to travel allows Quaneva to play her part in organising a slave rebellion.

Uncle George disapproves of this growing friendship and sends Sandy off on a bush expedition with the local militia to capture runaway slaves and destroy their rainforest settlement. On Sandy’s return as a hero, the celebration of the expedition’s success is thrown into confusion when the slaves rebel.

Their misadventures continue when Sandy and Quaneva escape during the uprising and are swept upriver in a canoe, where they find themselves hunting and partying with the Indians.

But who is the mysterious hermit called Where-am-I? Did the rebellion succeed? And when Sandy is forced to face his divided loyalties, who will he betray?

Mosquito Mansion and My Misadventures in Mudland is a young adult novel set in Demerara, on the Wild Coast of South America in the days of slavery on the plantations.

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Historical Novel Society

Dingbat & Dollface

A darkly comic take on slavery and the sugar trade Alexander Drabb is a young 12 year old boy sent to live with his uncle on a South American sugar plantation in the 18th century. Sandy thinks he knows everything and takes quite a long time to realise that he knows very little. His journey and introduction to life on the plantations leaves him quite giddy and he sees things through a feverish haze but, because he knows everything, he knows that he did see and experience some very strange things. Sandy meets a young slave girl Quaneva and is smitten by her. She doesn’t take him very seriously. There is much unrest among the slaves and natives and Sandy is sent up river to help quash a rebel group who have escaped and set up camp. Things go much more awry after the rebel routing party.

I really liked this book. The writing is a modern style, which was a relief to me when I started reading. The relationships Sandy has with everyone are very comical and the characters are very well written through the eyes of a 12 year old. My favourite bit was when Sandy observes that the escapees would have had to work just as hard digging and setting up their camp as they did when slaves. He doesn’t quite see why they would want to do that and suffer the consequences of running away. The story is fantastic and fantastical and really rollicks along. The atmosphere of sweaty, humid, damp, sickly sweet air is pervasive. The matter of fact attitude of Sandy (and all the other white people) towards the nature of the slavery and treatment of other human beings makes it more shocking reading about it. This was an eye opener for me and I think this book gives a darkly comic insight into this shameful area of history.

by Carolyn Smith


 

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