✰✰✰½ Eel is a young orphan just trying to scrape by on what he finds as a mudlark. As he struggles to save what he earns in order to protect a secret, a disease descends upon Victorian London. Hundreds of people in the Broad Street district succumb to what is believed to be bad air. In an effort to help his neighbors, young Eel turns to Dr. John Snow. However, instead of doctoring to the people of Broad Street, Dr. Snow takes a different approach. Drafted into helping the untiring Dr. Snow, Eel works ceaselessly to help create a map that will both enlighten the scientific community and help solve this medical mystery. Eel must race against the ravages of the disease to find where it all began, before it starts all over again.
The Bottom Line: This book will appeal to young fans of historical fiction. While cholera is an unpleasant topic, this fictional story brings to light a disease that rears its ugly head even in modern times. Recommended for middle grade readers and young adults who enjoy Dickensian tales and historical fiction set in London.
Details: The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson. Hardcover published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2013. 256 p. ISBN: 978-0375848186