City of Cannibals has been included on the 2011 Bank Street College list of Best Books for Children. (Click on Twelve to Fourteen category).

Read Ricki's July 2010 interview on Cynsations



Issue: January 1, 2010

City of Cannibals

Thompson, Ricki (Author)
Mar 2010. 269 p. Front Street, hardcover, $18.95. (9781590786239).

It’s England in 1536, the time of King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic Church, but the fact that this is unclear for so long is the book’s best asset. Sixteen-year-old Dell lives in a cave on a country hill with her family (some of whom are dwarves) where she passes the time chatting with her hand puppet, Bartholomew. Her father’s increasing violence compels her to escape to the city. Though it’s a foul, dirty place filled with pestilence, poverty, offal, and chamber-pot spillings, Dell finds none of the cannibals her father had warned her about. Instead, she falls in love with a young man pledged to be a Carthusian monk. Dell’s limited point of view gives the story the delirious spin of speculative fiction until her involvement with a carpenter who opposes the king aligns the plot along a recognizable Johnny Tremain trajectory. Thompson’s England is authentically vulgar, and her grasp of period slang—as well as Dell’s burgeoning sexual desires—is expert. Packed with rich metaphor, this is a challenging but rewarding read.

Daniel Kraus