Thursday, October 31, 2019

The 1,000 Year Old Boy

Welford, Ross. The 1,000 Year Old Boy
October 8th 2019 by Schwartz & Wade Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Alfie (or Alve) was born in the North... back when the VIkings were invading. He and his mother and cat were all made immortal by a substance is a glass ball (livperler) that his father had taken from someone in battle. They can still be killed, which is how he lost his father in battle, and his mother in a fire that burned down the house in England where they had lived for the better part of 200 years. It is always a problem to be perpetually eleven, and Alfie has found it hard to make friends. When he loses his mother, he is forced to rely on children his age, Aidan and Roxy, to help him. Aidan's family has fallen on some hard times, and he is being picked on by some of the boys with whom he used to be friends. Roxy has just moved into the neighborhood, and her mother is in a wheelchair following a bout with cancer. The two have seen Alfie in the woods, and have their suspicions about his true identity and past. They are glad to help him, and believe his story. Alfie has had a lot of interesting life experiences, such as meeting Charles Dickens, who signed a number of books for him. One of these books was stolen by a friend, Jack, who eventually abandoned Alfie, and whose son, John, bullied him. The only way for Alfie to reverse the immortality is to find the last livperler and rub the substance into his skin again, but the livperler were hidden by him and his mother on an island that is not easy to access. When Alfie eventually ends up in care and must attend school, he finds out that the island is going to be excavated by archaeologists, and he asks his new friends to help him. Will they be able to find the livperler before another Neverdead, Aidan's Uncle Jasper, is able to get to them?
Strengths: This is definitely a fresh premise; I can only think of two other books with immortal characters; Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life and Ferney. (I've owned several copies of this and keep lending it out and not getting it back. Sigh.) The circumstances under which Alfie meets and seeks help from Aidan and Roxy seem completely realistic, and it's nice to see them all work together. There is a German archaeologist who helps the children who is completely delightful! It was easy to follow the plot, and Alfie's glimpses into times past were amusing. Really enjoy Welford's work.
Weaknesses: Meeting up with Jack's descendants and with Jasper seemed a bit too coincidental, but perhaps people don't move around England the way they do around the US.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. These won't be constantly checked out, but will see steady use for a number of years. I am very impressed by the originality and readability of Welford's writing.

Ms. Yingling


  1. What about Tuck Everlasting? Another story with immortal characters.

  2. What a fun concept! The Fourteenth Goldfish has a sort of immortal character in it, but it definitely sounds different than this. I definitely want to read this one!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction