Neblett has a good ear for the vernacular of Kai and his circle: letters from school make his mother “aggy as fuck”, and a self-important authority figure has “macky eyebrows and wobbles in his voice”. But Neblett’s prose is not always equal to the technical challenge of telling a story in a child’s voice. A room is “hot hot” and contains a “Tick tick ticking clock”. Kai “jump jump jumped” and runs “fast fast faster”. Food is “yum yum yummy”. Do children think like this? Perhaps – but so do authors short on inspiration. King of Rabbits is a heartfelt novel about poverty, race and inherited trauma, but at times these themes get lost in the haze of Kai’s perceptions – much like the adult world he only half-sees through the smoke-filled air of his home.