Book Reviews, YA Book Club for Writers

Book Club Review: Sweep: The story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys”–orphans owned by chimney sweeps–to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived–and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.
But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature–a golem–made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.
Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life together–saving one another in the process.


Our thoughts about this book:

Our discussion started with the cover of Sweep – it’s eye-catching beauty and allure of so many chimneys. The colours present an amazing view of the rising sun. But then, there was something that didn’t quite fit, the silhouettes of Nan and her monster, compared to the rest of the picture appeared very cartoon-y and not the same style. As if the designer plunked in some clip-art. However, it is a beautiful cover that would make someone pick it up off the shelf for a closer look.

We discussed whether the book needed the subtitle, “The story of a girl and her monster.” Would just Sweep suffice? We concluded that the subtitle was necessary, not only for intrigue, but also, Auxier has so masterfully written this tale in a classic tone, that the subtitle adds to the atmosphere of the story the reader is about to embark. Everything about the beginning of the book – design wise – prepares the reader for a Dicken’s style story telling. [Don’t worry, minus the old English – Sweep is easy to read in modern language.] The classic feel continues with a page of quotes, followed by a page marked “Part One.”

Award-winning author, Kenneth Oppel, gave a perfect blurb that truly sums up our whole review – “With its vibrant and lovable characters, unique story, and sense of genuine wonder, Sweep reads like a classic written for today’s readers, young and old.” What else is there to say?

The adventure of Nan and her golem, Charlie, made us laugh, cry, and fall in love with all of the beloved characters. We couldn’t get enough of Charlie’s innocence. The Victorian England world is well developed. We all gained a heart wrenching education about children used as sweeps back then, it makes you sick to your stomach to know that the story is based on real history. The author’s note at the end gives some insight to the work and attention to detail Auxier put in to making sure he could tell this story just right.

Yes, we recommend this book!


This is an unsolicited review. I purchased my copy from
Read my review of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Canada (Sept. 10 2019)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735264373

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