Books & Literature

Book Review: The Tell, by Martin Chatterton

YA FICTION: 14yo Rey’s dad is a mafia boss. How far does the apple fall from the tree? When Rey’s life explodes, every decision he makes will shape the rest of his life.

A fast-paced crime and action drama which gives the reader a scary insight into the Sydney underworld.

Martin Chatterton has written and illustrated dozens of children’s books, being shortlisted for numerous awards. He also writes for adults under the name Ed Chatterton. His latest book, The Tell, was inspired by the idea of how the children of gangsters cope with their life while being surrounded by crime and death.

Raze is a 14-year-old boy living in Sydney. Life for him is normal except he happens to be the youngest son of one of the biggest crime bosses in the city. We first meet him in the back of a car, being driven to “The Coffin” a maximum-security jail where they put the most hardened and dangerous criminals. His Croatian father is there and Raze is headed for his monthly visit.

Raze is determined to tell his father that he wants nothing to do with the family business. He wants to live a normal life just like his best friends Ids, a Somalian boy who has been adopted, and Candy, who just happens to be the daughter of a police officer high up in the department.

Raze notices a tic in the back of the neck of his driver Fiji, one of his fathers trusted body guards. Raze has grown up around gangsters and has learnt that everyone has ‘a tell”. But what did this tell mean? Was something about to happen that he didn’t know about?

And so begins a fast paced journey through Sydney and its suburbs as Raze tackles with his desire to get away from his family’s life of crime and the pull of power and money. He is sick of the violence and destruction.

It is a story of heart-stopping adventure which doesn’t let up from start to finish. The chapters are short, which encourages the reader to read “just one more chapter” and makes it difficult to put the book down. It is scary to imagine a world where gangsters rule the streets, which is why I recommend it for an older teen. The Tell is marketed at younger teens but I feel the violence and fear would make it a better read for older teens who have some life experience under their belt. The underlying themes are about standing up for what is right regardless of the consequences, family love, domestic violence, and friendship.

The friendship between Raze, Candy and Ids is solid and heart-warming, and throughout the book their relationship keeps the reader encouraged that it will turn out alright.

This was an exciting, action-packed story that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: April 2020
RRP: $16.99

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