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When the door crashed open, Dalton Fly was holding his breath in the shadows, his back pressed against the cool marble of a thick pillar and his eyes pleading with a playing card. That lucky Jack, spattered in Bennie’s blood, had somehow saved his life. He couldn’t leave it. From where he was hiding, Dalton could see the Jack’s face staring at him, smudged in red. It was lying face up at the edge of the rug near the fireplace, perhaps a dozen strides away, Dalton thought.
He blinked and his vision smudged and blurred again; everything was a wash of swimming shapes for a moment. He rubbed his eyes. There was blood on his hands and under his fingernails.
Dalton was sure of one thing: two men had come into the room and they had pistols; he heard the click of a cap drawn back to shoot.

About the book

Poison boy Dalton Fly, a lowly food taster to the rich, has a lucky escape after drinking laced wine.

But his mate is less fortunate, and Dalton wants answers. Who murdered his friend, and what were they really after?

With the help of aristocratic girl Scarlet Dropmore, whose life he unwittingly saved, he sets out to rescue his city from the poisoners within.

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Press reviews

“Thrilling, richly imagined, swashbuckling adventure for ages 10-14.”


“An action-packed. Historical adventure, full of grisly goings-on, dastardly plots and near-death escapes. We loved it.”


“This thrilling tale moves at breakneck speed, with danger never far away ... a rich and exciting story from a prize-winning author...”


Author notes

'I always wanted to write, but it took me a long time to find the confidence to leave trends behind … Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines trilogy was sort of an epiphany for me … It opened my eyes to the possibilities of writing for younger audiences and redefined the genre [for me].'

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