Historical Fiction

Infant’s Of the Brush: A Chimney Sweep’s Story by A.M Watson

22 October 2019
Infant's of the Brush: A Chimney Sweep's Story Book Cover Infant's of the Brush: A Chimney Sweep's Story
A.M Watson
Red Acre Press
November 26, 2017

Infants of the Brush is historical fiction based on Armory v. Delamirie, a 1700s court case before the King's Bench against Paul de Lamerie, a silversmith. In the vein of Charles Dickens' Oliver TwistInfants of the Brush is set in a time when London society ignored the ills of child labor. Unlike the gleeful chimney sweeps portrayed in Mary Poppins, climbing boys were forced up burning flues to dislodge harmful soot and coal ash. Egan Whitcombe is just six years old when he is sold to Master Armory for a few coins that his family desperately needs. As one of Master Armory's eight broomers, Egan quickly learns that his life depends on absolute obedience and the coins he earns. Pitt, the leader of Master Armory's broomers, teaches Egan to sweep chimneys and negotiate for scraps of bread. Broken and starving, the boys discover friendship as they struggle to save five guineas, the cost of a broomer's independence.

Hello everyone! I hope you are excited for a review of something special today. To begin, I was sent a copy of “Infants of the Brush: A Chimney Sweep’s Story” from A.M Watson herself, and I want to thank her for such an honor. But, because most of my reviews circle on the e-book copy and scoring, I also purchased the book from Amazon so that I could read one and also make comments on how the e-book reads to someone who didn’t buy the physical book.

Let me go into the first impressions, without going into spoilers but also going into my thoughts on the topic at hand. This is a book about little boys who are chimney sweeps, as the title says. I consider myself a person who relishes in knowing things, and up until I read A.M’s book, I knew nothing about chimney sweeps. I had no idea that there was a time in our history where little boys younger than my son is now at six, were climbing into death traps to keep people from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I’ll be honest my friends, this book shook me to my core as a mother, as a person who believes that kids should be kids, and as someone who thinks that unfair labor laws are horrible. I had no idea this situation was even a thing. I had no idea that it would have continued if not for modern technology adding changes to heating and cooling systems. I had no idea about many things.

And so when I go into my first impressions here, I want to state that the book hooked me into the premise quickly, and then kept me reading at a consistent clip. I didn’t put the book down the entire day I was reading.

Let me go into critiques. I will be going into a scoring category of “Story Structure, Foundation and Presentation” under the “Story Structure” I was a bit sad to find the very end of the book was missing something. There are a lot of vibrant secondary characters in this story. In those characters, there were many well thought out and unique origins for each, and there were elements that I found myself drawn to. In some cases, there were one or two sometimes three mentions of specific things. For example (but without spoilers), a character kept mentioning they wished to get married. Sadly, the final piece of the book omitted all of them. I know, they are secondary characters, and I know, secondary characters usually get the shaft, but I do love when all of the story threads find a closing. This isn’t part of my “Whole Story” category, because the whole of the main story was fully fleshed out and told with a real beginning, middle, and ending. However, it is to be a story structure issue with missing the pieces that are brought up in the subplot and secondary elements and give them a closing.

With that said, let me go into what I really enjoyed about “Infants of the Brush,” and I am going to start with “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation.”

Starting with “Presentation,” as I mentioned, I purchased the e-copy as well as have the physical copy. So to start, the margins, page spacing, spelling, grammar, and word choice for both versions are on point. I can tell someone took a lot of time to make sure the e-version of the book was its own unique format and fit perfectly for any device. The margins work well on default or if you change fonts for Kindle. I also enjoyed that it was so beautiful on the paper for the actual book. I love the cover, and I like how the paper chosen for the physical book is a thick and sturdy paper to have the words on. I do not think for a moment; this is a poorly crafted book by any means in the physical or virtual sense. Great job! Regardless of what version you purchase, I think you will be happy with it. I know I am.

Second, under “Foundation,” I truly loved the research which was done to add realism to the story. I did not need to ever go back to research anything to understand it. The foundation was solid because the world-building was done perfectly. This made reading the story far more realistic, even in the fictionalized parts.

Third, under “Lost in Translation,” which I eluded to earlier, I never was lost. The actual world that this is based on was presented well so that I understood it. I didn’t feel compelled to Google or Wikipedia anything to understand it.

Under “Cliche Much,” I am happy to report that I didn’t find anything in any cliche used without imagination. There are some tropes where you can have orphans and destitution, and there are some cliche’s about them as well, but thankfully, in the case of “Infants of the Brush,” I found nothing unoriginal in the use of the ideas. I was devastated at specific parts of this novel and openly cried when certain characters were harmed. Everything that was used as an idea had its own brand of terror and truth.

Lastly, I want to point out the “Whole Story” portion of my scoring. This is a whole story. “Infants of the Brush” made me weep, and feel such anguish. I am sick that such professions existed for small boys. The story is one that will grip readers from page one to the very last page, it will bring the heart and mind to a similar place of melancholy and joy for the main character.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. If you love historical fiction, and you enjoy stories that are sad but uplifting at the same time, this one would be great. I really would like to see this book taught in schools. I think our children need to know about the little brush boys of long ago.


With all of the scoring in mind, “Infants of the Brush” receives a score of 92/100. That means it is a five-star review on Goodreads and Amazon. Get “Infants of the Brush” for your older teenagers who are about to be in the workforce, or, your hist-fiction fan in your family. But mostly, you should read this book for yourself, and feel it’s deep meanings and importance long after you have finished reading the last words.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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