Cover Image: The Runaways

The Runaways

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Member Reviews

This is a great read and I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in this trilogy.  There are interesting  characters, I loved Smiler and the rural setting as well as the relationships between the humans and animals.
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Love the stories of Victor Canning. Having read the first in this series, can't wait for the next one. Excellent descriptive writer and storyteller. Worth a read.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC, in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

⭐️ 4 ⭐️

What a wonderful book; not just for the Young Adult audience, but perfect for ancient adults like me too!

A beautiful story about two runaways: 15-year-old Samuel Miles, also known as Smiler (but he hates being called that!) who has absconded from a miserable life in a reform school, and Yarra, a cheetah who has escaped from Longleat Wildlife Park.

Originally published in 1972, The Runaways is a story of survival, friendship and belonging. It features some wonderful characters, who all add a certain charm to this delightful tale.

Told from the perspectives of Samuel and Yarra. I particularly enjoyed Yarra’s narrative; I was fully rooting for her as she adapted to living her new life in the wild. Canning certainly doesn’t sugar-coat how an animal has to kill to survive.

The author was obviously extremely passionate and knowledgeable about wildlife and nature; I could clearly visualise the landscape and the vast array of flora and fauna he described so vividly.

Overall, a lovely, old-fashioned uplifting story, heart-breaking yet heart-warming. Perfect for any adult,  be they young or old.

The Runaways is the first book in the ‘Smiler’ trilogy, I’m already looking forward to catching up with Samuel on his next adventure.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Duckworth Books for giving me the 2021 edition eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Runaways tells the story of two lonely creatures who escape from captivity: Smiler, wrongly convicted of stealing, and Yarra, a cheetah who has escaped the Longleat Wild Life Park.

As well as a story of survival, The Runaways is a story of friendship and belonging. Canning ties the lives of the two escapees together masterfully, as they both fight for survival on the Salisbury Plain.

My favourite thing about this book was the descriptions of nature and animals. It is so beautifully written and it has a depth and maturity to it that I haven’t read in children’s literature before. Smiler and Yarra’s characters were also very well-developed and unique. I especially enjoyed reading from Yarra’s perspective.

Although I do think it was a little slow at times, I’m glad a new edition is being published as it is a heartwarming story which can be enjoyed by all ages.
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Like Swallows And Amazons, Greyfriars Bobby, Tarka The Otter, and others, Victor Canning's novel can be read again and again, at any age. This, my fourth reading, brought as much enchantment and pleasure as before.
Victor Canning's love of the countryside permeates every page and his characters - Samuel M. (I won't call him Smiler because he hated it!), Joe, Mrs Lakey and her sister Miss Milly - are unforgettable. 
You will shed many tears as the story progresses. A perfect book for anyone and everyone.
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