In The Kneebone Boy, the Hardscrabble children live in a small England town where everyone has avoided them like the plague since their mother disappeared. One reason the villagers avoid them is because rumor has it that one day Otto strangled his mom in a fit of rage. I suspect another reason is because the children aren't all that friendly. One day the youngest Max invites a girl home. Lucia demands to know who she is. Lucia keeps pressing Brenda with questions until finally Lucia denounces everything Max has said as lies and snorts: "I'm surprised a girl your age would believe such rubbish. I honestly think kids are getting stupider each year." Yes, Ellen Potter has given readers another snob. The difference here is that while eventually Clara of Pish Posh reveals herself as vulnerable as the rest of us, I never really feel this about the Hardscrabble children. In Potter tradition, mysteries are afoot within the first chapter. Did the children's mom die at the hands of Otto? Did she even die? What exactly happened to their mother? There are other storylines, but none of them possesses the same heart of Potter's other books. Instead they seem weird for the sake of being odd, such as the unidentified narrator of The Kneebone Boy. The Kneebone Boy does have twists, but I find them harder to follow and so in the end stopped caring whether they all made sense.