The School for Nobodies by Susie Bower

Publishing June 2020 by Pushkin Press

Claudia has been adopted by Claude and Sonia, rich parents with little love to share. Feeling more charity case than daughter, Claudia keeps to herself more and more. She has a burn mark on her face and this seems to keep friends away at school, and remarks to Sonia and Claude about their generosity in taking her on.

On the day of her birthday, Claudia is unsurprised to find she has nothing significant to open and enjoy. During her allowed time outside, Claudia cartwheels and somersaults down the garden to her tree. A tall ancient tree, Claudia spends time here pretending she is somewhere else. Claudia loves all things circus and often imagines herself on the tightrope, swinging on the trapeze and visiting the animals.

Today, however, in the highest branches, Claudia spots a red balloon. Feeling sure it is meant for her, she climbs to get it- finding a little blue-grey dove there to help her.
“Look in the mirror, if you dare. Your name is hidden under your hair” this message appears on a little scroll in the balloon. Due to the burn on her face, Claudia never looks in the mirror but this propels her to have a closer look.
What she sees is completely shocking- a small tattoo with a name and date. Her name is not Claudia after all- but Flynn.

Promising not to give any spoilers, a few other key messages find Claudia at times over the course of a few weeks catapulting her into a family mystery- that which Sonia and Claude will not speak of. There is only one thing for Claudia to do- get herself sent away to boarding school. Believing she will find answers there she happily causes enough trouble to get sent away.

Claudia soon realises she has been sent to the wrong school- her answers lie in the posh school with a pool, cinema and friends- not the School for Nobodies where she has ended up. There are several weird rules in this place- no names, no contact with the school next door and students are allowed one possession only.
With three other resident children, Claudia or Antsy as she becomes known, finds it a struggle knowing she is no closer to solving her family mystery. The students argue, fall out and get sent to the Room of Reflection.

Here Claudia gets contacted by a crow and a mirror- showing her just enough to keep her coming back for more information about her family. The rescue and arrival of a feral boy found in the woods adds an extra element of depth to the story and as the reader, we could see his importance but Claudia was blinded by her own mission.

Living in the house with the children and owner is Felix Gold- a former circus clown and incredibly nice man. He starts coaching Claudia in circus skills and telling his own sad tale. When the school decide to put on a Halloween circus show, the children start working together and getting along.
Halloween is a notorious night for dark magic and the crow and mirror are at the centre of a dark plan involving Claudia, the feral boy and Felix Gold- someone is after revenge!

I cannot do justice to the incredible plot line of this book, the fascinating characters or the journey they must all travel while living at The School for Nobodies.
I was completely engrossed and found myself talking to Claudia and urging her to take a closer look at those around her, not to be blinded by promises and to make the connections before danger found her.
This is one not to be missed!

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