About The Poison Boy

'The Poison Boy', (once known as ‘Sleepwell and Fly’), is an adventure set in a thrilling fantasy world populated by bandits, pistol-bearing brawlers and poisonboys. Highlions is a city of shadows; a smuggler’s den of secret passageways, flooded cellars and moonlit rooftops. Making a tenuous living in these lawless streets are Sal Sleepwell and Dalton Fly, teenage poisonboys – orphaned food-tasters for the idle rich, and principal members of a threadbare team of homeless children, Oscar’s Honest Dozen (“antidote and food tasting for the people of Highlions”).
One night, Dalton Fly wakes from a poison-induced trance in an upper circle mansion, drenched in the blood of a dead companion. Numbed by trauma, his wits and memory flogged, Dalton flees, pursued by armed guards, and escapes through the bedchamber of a beautiful and mysterious girl. Returning home he finds his mentor and employer, Oscar Wright, missing and, while recounting his half-remembered tale to Sleepwell, is cornered by an armed street watch patrol charged with his capture.
Sleepwell and Fly escape, but quickly find their lives can never be the same again. What is it that has suddenly made Dalton Fly Highlions’ most wanted? Who was the girl in the bedroom? What are the plans of the Jupiter Hand, a covert gang of escaped prisoners? And, perhaps most disturbingly, who is the undertaker, the dark, ominous figure who seems to be pursuing them? As the poisonboys – in league with Scarlet Dropmore, a smart, resourceful sentaway – get closer to the truth, they begin to suspect something much more sinister than first expected. Sleepwell and Fly will need to use all their remarkable talents to the full, and call on the help of a motley crew of dubious allies if they are to stay alive and take on the forces that threaten to destroy them...
‘The Poison Boy’ is a smuggler’s tale and rip-roaring adventure whose roots are in the same ground as ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, ‘Moonfleet’, or ‘Treasure Island’ but whose contemporary cousins - cleverer cousins, it must be said - are stories such as Phillip Reeve’s ‘Mortal Engines’ sequence, Kenneth Oppel’s ‘Skyborn’, or the work of Phillip Womack, Nicola Morgan (‘The Highwayman’s Footsteps’, ‘Fleshmarket’) or Jonathan Stroud. It’s a 'Glass Books of the Dream-Eaters', or 'Lies of Locke Lamora' for teenage readers, and features a fully realised fantasy world and a cast of eccentric and engaging characters that (man, I hope...) will capture the imaginations of boys and girls alike.

You can find out a little more about it - and hear me reading an extract from chapter one here.