Title: Fearless Frederic
Author: Felice Arena
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2nd April 2018
Synopsis: A story of friendship and heart-racing adventure – a perfect follow up to the acclaimed The Boy and the Spy.
When the river rises and the city of Paris begins to disappear under water, Frederic decides to help those who can’t help themselves. But as his heroic acts escalate, so does the danger. Frederic will have to battle an escaped zoo animal and fight off pickpockets and looters but, as the waters subside, can he find justice for his father and find out what courage really means?
Frederic lives with his parents in Paris, and is excited to visit the Louvre – yet when his father is murdered by a thief, Frederic’s life changes forever and he goes to work at a stable. But six months after his father’s death, a flood comes to Paris after torrential rain fills the sewers. Whilst the city tries to rebuild and shelters in evacuee shelters for those whose homes have been affected, Frederic and his friends, Claire and Thierry band together to help an escaped zoo animal, tackle pickpockets, amongst many things. Soon, Frederic sees the man who killed his father, and finds out what the man has stolen. Can Frederic stop the thief and find justice for his father?
The Paris flood of 1910 is one of those historical events that is not often explored or mentioned in novels. Frederic has spent years learning to fight, though he doesn’t really like it, and his father has been trying to teach him to be brave. When he meets Thierry and Claire, he finds friends – and together, they go on adventures to help those affected by the Paris flood. I loved that Frederic found he could be brave beyond learning to fight, and it was his compassion and loyalty to his friends and solving his father’s murder that drove the novel for me, bringing a pre-war world to life – a mere four years before the First World War would break out, though there were no hints that this would happen.
Claire and Thierry were fun characters. I first met them when they were playing tug-o-war, and Frederic tries to convince Thierry to stop bullying Claire. I loved that he was able to show his fearlessness in different ways throughout the novel, building up from this scene to setting things up to catch the thief who had robbed the Louvre and killed his father. I loved the methods he used as well. Felice incorporated French into the titles which were often boxing moves which fitted in with the flow of the novel and the way it unfolded chapter by chapter. Though it is short, it is filled with action that keeps the story moving, and has its conflicts but allows the kids to work things out, whilst the adults in their lives work in the background and are loving parents who only want the best for their kids.
It was refreshing to read a historical fiction novel that wasn’t touched by war – it showed that there are so many eras and events to write about, and every author will write about these events in their own way, with their own story and spin. No two stories about the same event will ever really be the same. This is a great book to read and learn about something new and to see what friendship can be like. I really enjoyed it and hope other readers do as well. Well done, Felice! I couldn’t put this one down!