Otto and his mother have moved to the frozen town of Hodeldorf, so that she could follow her craft of coat making. Soon after their arrival she mysteriously disappears and Otto is left, with no home and no money. He is then taken to a local factory, where he becomes part of the child labour work force and life looks very bleak. However, high above the rooftops, huddling near the chimney pots to find some warmth are children known as ‘Tattercoats’, many of whom had escaped from the horrors of the factory. The ‘Tattercoats’ of the title are a tightly knit community of children, who live by a strong set of rules based on helping each other and only having one coat at a time; only getting another when the first has become tattered, hence the name. So when Otto disappears whilst searching for his mother, it is up to the others to go after him, even though they have to face many dangers out in the dark wood, away from the town. The questions are, can these children rescue Otto and the others and will Otto be able to find his mother and bring her back to the town?
This is a thrilling story of survival against the odds and how friendship can help overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. It mixes a sense of fairy tale with a feel of gothic in the creepy and frightening polish factory, run by the evil Frau Ferber and her two sons. The author manages to draw us into the story, having created an environment that is both physically and emotionally chilling. The story is full of adventure, action and mystery, with just a hint of magic and will suit both boys and girls alike. This is definitely a brilliant new story and one that I think will make quite a stir in the coming year.