Book Review: Featherweight by Mick Kitson

Book Review: Featherweight by Mike Kitson

A colourful, joyous tale of fisticuffs, love and loyalty against all the odds. Loosely based on the tall tales of his own ancestors, author Mick Kitson brings a family of travellers during the Industrial Revolution roaring to life.


Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Outsider Fiction.

Publisher: Canongate

Review in one word: Triumphant

*Contains no spoilers

Annie Perry is an indomitable, strong and likeable main character. She is born into the muddy drudgery and coal mines of Tipton in the Black Country during the Industrial Revolution.

Annie is born into an extremely poor Romi family and her mother can’t afford to feed all of her children so she is sold at the age of nine for six guineas to Bill Perry, a famed and feared bare-knuckle boxer, also known as the Tipton Slasher. Under the care of Bill and his friends Annie grows into a fearless fighter as well.

Photo by Frans van Heerden on

There is a visceral, bone-crunching realism to this book – especially during the boxing scenes, yet this is combined artfully with a romantic lyricism of a great epic poem and the story chugs along at a crackling pace.

The point of view oscillates between the cast colourful characters each speaking in an evocative and yet easy to understand Black Country dialect. The narrative always circles back towards the brave and fearless heroine Annie Perry.

The dialogue is vibrant and jumped off the page for me and the characters were incredibly well drawn, authentic and magnetic. They each draw you deeply into their orbit.

With no rules governing the sport, women's boxing in the 1800s had a reputation for being even fiercer than we know it today. Pictured above are the Bennett Sisters, who boxed and wrestled for crowds as a Vaudeville Act between 1910 and 1915

[Pictured] The Bennett Sisters, who boxed and wrestled for crowds as a Vaudeville Act between 1910 and 1915. Daily Fail

I can’t give away much more about the plot without ruining this amazing book for you. This is a tale of fortune, determination, drudgery, labour, family (those you are born into and those you choose), of class snobbery, power dynamics and disadvantage, of ethics, integrity and morals and embracing the sheer joy of living despite it all. In short this book has real heart and soul and you won’t want to miss it!

Featherweight is a novel of pure indulgent joy and I hope you get the chance to enjoy it too. Mick Kitson has published one other book and so I am now keen to read this one as well. This is a survival and adventure story you won’t want to miss.

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Mฤori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Mฤori culture and loads more.

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