Scarlett is a bank robber, primarily, although she also travels, sells dubious “religious artifacts” and, only as a last resort of course, kills. After a job goes very nearly wrong, Scarlett is forced to run to avoid being caught by the town’s militia and discovers a bus crash. Against all odds, amid this bus crash is Albert, a stringy-looking boy who is uncharacteristically bright and chatty for such a bleak world. They form an unlikely and sometimes dangerous alliance to travel together to Stow. Obviously, things go wrong, people get killed, they need to change plans and rob more banks… you know, the usual. As they are chased across Wessex, we learn more about them, and they discover secrets about each other – especially the reason they are being chased in the first place.
Stroud has an excellent way of telling a story without revealing too much; the reader ever so slowly puts the pieces together about Scarlett’s past, about the way this world works (or doesn’t, depending on the point of view) and most importantly, about Albert. Not only was it about unlikely friendships but it had strong themes of family, trust and survival. Another winner from Stroud, as far as I’m concerned, and a world and set of characters that I’d love to hear more about.