TMW Book Reviews

Dark Against the Sky

by Stephen Hauge

Dark Against the Sky: A Climbing Boy’s Story is a heartwarming tale of hope, determination and perseverance. Tommy is a climbing boy (young chimney sweep) working in the streets of London. He is a child, stolen from his parents and trapped in this hard labor, overseen by a cruel and greedy master sweep. Tommy and four other boys form a band of brothers to help each other through this hopeless daily grind. But Tommy has a dream, a better plan for the future. He wants to reunite with his family and so embarks on an epic adventure to regain his lost life.

The title perfectly synchronizes with the story and its characters. Set in 1834 in London, this novel transports you back to the darkness of unforgiving poverty and child labor.

Yet Tommy’s determination and focus are unwavering. He is fueled by the ray of light coming through each chimney he sweeps, as he knows the hardest climb often presents him the best view of blue sky. And the story is also structured like a chimney climb: darkness at first and the constant, rewarding challenge to find the ray of hope.

The characterization is mesmerizing, with the protagonist and the many supporting characters being well portrayed. Among the many features that also set this story apart are its meaningful conversations and descriptions. They underscore the level of research the author has used to build this evocative novel.

Overall, Dark Against the Sky is a perfect slice of art drawn through inspiring characters and powerful themes.

– The Moving Words Review


About the Author

Steve Hauge became interested in Climbing Boys in a history course at Williams College. His concern led to this deeply researched story, which provides a window into the lives of these lads amid the street life of London. Mr. Hauge is also the author of a CD-ROM on Robert Louis Stevenson and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A teacher for 12 years, he lives in New Jersey.