The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

Standalone. Feiwel & Friends (Sept. 2010) Library
Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar sea village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal. . . .                                                                                        
In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything.


Well that was an interesting ending... I've never been given such an unforeseen ending to a story like I have with this book. It left me so speechless that I have to conclude that Ellen Potter is a genius.

Adventures work in peculiar ways, Lucia now thought. You wished and wished for one, then suddenly, without even knowing how, you were in one. It was just as exhilarating as you imagined it would be from the novels. Until something happened, like a nighttime ride in a funeral carriage and the murder of a little white pony. Then you forgot all about the novels, and instead remembered the news stories about unfortunate kids who ended up decapitated in the woods.

The Hardscrabble children live in a small town where they are met with scrutiny every day. It has a lot to do with the mysterious disappearance of their mother years before and it also has to do with the fact that the Hardscrabble children are unlike any other siblings you've ever met. Otto is the oldest, instead of speaking he uses hand signals that only his siblings have been able to decipher. He wears a scarf around his neck and never takes it off. No one dares try to take the challenge to do it themselves. You see there is a rumor going around that Otto is a deranged killer and he himself strangled his mother with that very scarf. Otto likes things that are abnormal or weird. He's an animal lover too. He has this quiet demeanor he comes off very gentle and sweet in the book. He can be sulky and moody sometimes and he has his reasons and on him it's kind of adorable. He has the added bonus of looking rather strange and acting strange which makes him into a very interesting and notable character. 

Lucia (pronounced Lu -CHEE-a) is very close with Otto and believes that without her, he couldn't make it... whatever that means. She's a bit stuck up but not in an overly annoying way. She's very protective of her family which comes out more than her haughty attitude. The youngest is Max who may be considered a know-it-all by Lucia but he really does know it all. He has an extensive knowledge about everything. His optimistic attitude in the beginning of the story led me to believe he would be very shy but he ended up being almost the complete opposite. Max sometimes goes into a trance where he thinks thoughtfully and deeply about something. He's very good at figuring things out but tends to be more rational than his other siblings. Him and Lucia squabble a lot because of their clashing personalities. They both become closer with one another which was nice to experience. All of the Hardscrabble children's personalities are very distinctive. Their personalities are what shined in this story. Their story and personalities felt so real as I was reading The Kneebone Boy. They really came alive.

Their story takes them to meet their great aunt Haddie who's a bit of an oddball herself. They didn't know about her until Otto came across a letter by her written to their father. Their father's name is Casper and he paints portraits for down and out royalty. He occasionally will go away and send them to Mrs. Carnival's (who has to be the rudest babysitter ever and most of the children's motivation to not tell their father where they really are) house but this time he sent them somewhere else. Over a series of events they wind up at their aunt Haddie's. The Hardscrabble children start meddling into the local legend of the Kneebone Boy and the secrets that lie within their family. They discover astonishing things about both the legend and their family that left me speechless. Potter crafts this story and its characters so well. I love that the narrator was one of the children, the uniqueness of Otto, Lucia, and Max, as well as how it all turned out. It's just a really unexpected and amazing story. This is one of the best storytelling and writing I've seen in a while so I'd recommend checking it out yourself.