By Alison Rattle ( Five Mile Press, softcover, $ 16.95)
THE dark underbelly of 19thcentury London is the backdrop for this compelling, poignant story of two girls from completely different walks of life who find in each other a sense of belonging they have never known in their short, difficult lives.
Fifteen- year- old Queenie lives in the damp, cold, squalour of the slums, where her mother is forced into prostitution to feed her hungry children.
Across town, 16- year- old Ellen lives in a grand house with servants, beautiful clothes and plenty to eat. But her parents are cold, distant, brittle and impossible to love.
When Queenie leaves home and finds work with the Waters sisters, she is delighted to be earning an income, so as time goes by and a tiny voice inside her is telling her something is very wrong, she chooses not to hear it.
When her cousin Jacob comes to stay, Ellen thinks her life will change for the better, but events take a devastating turn.
These two girls, who have more in common than they could ever imagine, are thrown together under extraordinary circumstances in a disturbingly tragic young adult story that quietly drips with intrigue and tension.