Review of The Adventures of Toby Wey

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Review of The Adventures of Toby Wey

Post by evraealtana »

[Following is an official review of "The Adventures of Toby Wey" by Gavin Scott.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The year is 1820, and Kent, like elsewhere in England, is deeply divided by class. New land seizures by the aristocracy have compounded the economic troubles caused by the Napoleonic Wars, leaving the working class to starve.

Young Toby Wey, the son of a poor farm laborer, is caught up in the turmoil. When his father confronts the local lord about the recent enclosure of the village commons, the lord’s wounded pride causes Toby’s father to be sentenced to transportation to Australia, which is equivalent to an execution. The impending transportation pushes Toby’s mother to the brink of insanity, and so Toby becomes determined to reunite his parents one last time before his father is ripped away from them forever. There’s just one problem: his father is currently being held on a maximum-security prison ship, and there is no way on or off the ship without inside help. Fortunately, Toby knows someone he can ask.

Unfortunately for Toby, things don’t quite go the way he planned.

What unfolds next will involve a jewel heist, an elopement, a chess-playing automaton, a prison break, the explosion of several steam engines, the beautiful, intelligent daughter of a despised aristocrat, a few business ventures that are only partly legal, and a hangman’s noose.

The Adventures of Toby Wey, written by Gavin Scott, is a spellbinding historical adventure novel set in the early 19th century. It blends historical events, like the Swing Riots and the birth of the steam engine, with a fantastical tale that is nothing short of mesmerizing.

From the very first page, the action simply doesn’t quit. Even the slower scenes simmer with an intrigue that sets the stage for the reader to be whisked away on another leg of Toby’s weird and wonderful journey. I particularly loved the way the author incorporated well-known historical figures, like Charles Dickens and George Stephenson, into the story in ways that felt just barely plausible.

The historical nature of the book means that readers who are familiar with English history will probably appreciate it more than those who are not, but such prior knowledge is certainly not a prerequisite for understanding the plot. There is sporadic profanity in the text, but I feel that these words are infrequent enough that teenage readers should not be prohibited from reading the book. There is no sexual content and surprisingly little violence, all things considered.

I am heartbroken to have to deduct a star from the book’s rating due to the presence of several grammatical errors in the text, commonly consisting of typos and missing words. These errors are the only flaw in a book that otherwise amply earns a full score, and since they did not in any way diminish my enjoyment of the story, I can definitely see myself rereading the book many times in the future.

The Adventures of Toby Wey earns a score of 3 out of 4 for its magnificently crafted coming-of-age story set amid a vivid historical backdrop. It narrowly misses earning a fourth star due to the errors present and would easily regain that star after professional editing. It would most appeal to adult fans of historical fiction looking for a gripping tale of adventure and triumph against long odds.

The Adventures of Toby Wey
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Post by Abel Kiharo »

This is just the sort of story that I would want my boys to read: a tale about a boy, Toby Wey, who through no fault of his own, finds himself on hard times and alone, fighting to survive in a world where the wealthy prosper at the expense of others who they can exploit; but managing, despite the odds to do something productive and successful with the life he has been given.

However, it was a book that I, as an older reader, also enjoyed reading. Very much. Gavin Scott's novel has great pace, moving from Toby's simple country life through his encounters with various characters along the way, some who become his friends and some who would harm him if given the chance. But beyond the story is a learnedness about the period in which the book is set that makes it interesting historically speaking: I liked the asides that Scott throws in about what else is happening in the world at the time so that we are made aware of contemporaries; like, who was President in America, for instance.

The book is set in a dynamic period of history and one full of tensions, political and social, and having Toby chart his way through different scenarios which show this means that it is always entertaining and full of adventure. It is also chockablock with illustrations - I think from various sources - which augment the narrative and are reminiscent of Dickens' editions I have come across, which is apt considering young Charles Dickens features throughout the story. This is also something that I liked - it could have felt contrived and a little clumsy, but such is Scott's writing that this was never the case. The famous writer's appearance felt natural to the narrative.

The book is split into two parts: the first is told in the third person and our all-seeing narrator tells us of Toby's early days; the second part is Toby's own papers, discovered serendipitously and so, we learn first hand about his more successful years, still fraught but with a more determined and assured outlook, the confidence of life experience serving him well. The switch is made obvious and the book does not suffer for this.

As a coming-of-age novel, it has all the hallmarks of a good one -a highly enjoyable and easy read for readers of all ages.
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Post by Ozioma Miriam »

Toby's intentions were quite noble for a time as troubling as theirs was. I feel sad that things didn't go the way he wanted, but I hope after the drama he achieved his goal. Your review was interesting.
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Post by Paully_ »

Historical fictions are nice to read. Toby has a busy life even though he didn't get what he wanted. I hope the author can correct the errors to make reading the book worthwhile. Great review.
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Post by Ezidimma 01 »

Am not really a fan of historical events or stories because I don't consider them interesting to me. But I love the passion and zeal of Toby to unite his parents again. Great review.
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Post by Eliwamala »

Reading fiction set in the past can be very enjoyable. Despite not getting what he wanted, Toby seems to be keeping himself quite busy. It would be great if the author could fix the mistakes so that the book would be enjoyable to read. excellent assessment.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
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Post by Shadreck Rogers »

Novels that are grounded in historical events are my favourite. I particularly like the plot twist in this book.
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Post by Patty Allread »

I enjoyed your review. I like that the author included historical events such as the invention of the steam engine, historical figures of the era like Charles Dickens, and other things that did happen, like exiling people to Australia. It's a rich background for a story that sounds exciting and engaging.
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