Meet Alfie otherwise known as ‘Household Drudge’. Abandoned as a baby by his mother, taken-in by his stupendously fat and frightening aunts, now eleven years old and feeling down on his luck. All Alfie really wants is a loving family to grow-up in instead of doing endless, tiresome and pointless tasks for his ungrateful aunts with only his best friend, Bandit the three legged boxer dog, for company.
Then there’s Marjorie Lentless. Prime Minister of Britain, facing an upcoming election and down on her luck having attempted to enter the space race with Shuttle Relentless which, it’s fair to say, has gone disastrously wrong. Desperate to regain popularity she turns to Dr Shard, an elitist scientist, who claims to have discovered and isolated Gene 1684327; the elusive Luck Gene. And where better for the Luck Gene to reside? A chicken. To prove the chicken’s unquestionable luckiness the Prime Minister arranges for the chicken to publically cross six lanes of traffic outside the Dorchester Hotel in London. Only not everything goes according to plan. In a twist of fate the chicken ends up in Alfie’s possession who – despite advice not to – eats the chicken thus inheriting the luck gene. For enslaved Alfie this is where his troubles only just begin.
From here this already fast paced novel gathers speed, introduces new characters and made me laugh out loud almost as frequently as turning the page. There’s Fox (a feral-type boy with a penchant for chicken) and his gang of wild friends. Fox’s sister, Red, slightly more conventional than Fox but still as mysterious. Mr Mulicber, Dr Shard’s sidekick, who is desperate to turn Alfie’s brain into stew. The illustrious Inspector Champion who has never been outwitted, yet. And the pièce de rèsistance (in my opinion) The Quirks, aliens from where else but the planet Fortuna. All are desperate for a piece of Alfie’s luck, but who will get to him first? More importantly who should Alfie trust?
Jamie Rix is a brilliant writer who had me on the edge of my seat anxious to know what would happen to Alfie next. I was most amused by the names of Marjorie Lentless’ ministers, like the ‘Minister for Good News’ and the ‘Minister for Honesty’ which change and become more convoluted as the story progresses. There is a sinister side to this story too, after all some of these characters do want to eat Alfie’s brain. Rix tackles this impeccably, allowing the reader to feel appalled and squeamish but pacing the story so that your mind is moved on without time to ponder.
The mother in me wanted to take Alfie home and protect him. The child in me wanted to share his adventure, be his best friend and shield him from danger. Which is exactly what Rix allows the reader to do.
The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck is addictive, compelling and unpredictable. But then such is the nature of the Luck Gene.