Claire Oshetsky on her favourite novels featuring feral children

By Virago Press

Claire Oshetsky on her favourite novels featuring feral children

By Virago Press

Here are some of my favourite stories about children growing up without the civilising influence of adults in their lives. The children in these novels aren’t evil. But they can be beastly.



£9.99 £9.49

A sweet story about oddball, outcast children who follow their bliss, straight into a life of wanton murder, cannibalism, and autosarcophagy. It really is a sweet story, though.

The Girl With All The Gifts: The most original thriller you will read this year

M. R. Carey

£9.99 £9.49

It’s wrong to call the girl with all the gifts a “zombie.” She is more like “an ambient killer mushroom with a conscience.” It falls on her young shoulders to create a new civilization, with new rules, after the humans have had their run.

Dog Boy

Eva Hornung


A four-year-old boy, abandoned in Moscow, is adopted by an urban dog pack. The story of this boy’s transformation into a new life as a dog are riveting, deeply imagined and full of human feeling.


Robert Repino

£8.99 £8.54

True, the protagonist of this story isn’t a feral child. He’s a feral cat. But he’s childlike all the same, and it’s his childlike naivité that makes this novel so delightful. A deeper-than-it-seems story about animals taking over the world and doing a pretty good job of it.

The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches

Gaetan Soucy


A story about two (or maybe three) children trying to find their way in life without the help of any (sane) adult. You’ll read on with your eyes half-shut, but you’ll read on, because the writing is beautiful, and because you’re rewarded by a story that goes far beyond your worst imaginings.



£14.99 £14.24

Savage, startling, possessed of a biting humour and wild love, Chouette is a dark modern fable about mothering an unusual child - an owl baby.

Claire Oshetsky is the author of Chouette, a fierce dark fable about motherhood that will grip you in its talons and never let go. 

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