Okay, so I’ll admit it. I am fickle about what I read sometimes.
I will be FAR more likely to pick up a book and give it consideration if it has a captivating cover. This, like Jacqueline Kolosov ‘s “The Red Queen’s Daughter,” was one of those titles. Being a lover of historical fiction doesn’t hurt, either.
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner
From School Library Journal (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
Grade 7–10—As the first embers of the French Revolution begin to burn, Yann Margoza, a 14-year-old voice thrower and mind reader, watches his simple life as a magician’s assistant disappear before his eyes. During one fateful midnight performance at the chateau of an overindulgent, debt-ridden marquis, a string of irreversible events unfurls. Jolted from the only world he’s known, Yann becomes inextricably intertwined with the marquis’s 12-year-old daughter and lecherous, treacherous Count Kalliovski. Yann struggles to make the right choices while coming to terms with his origins and unique abilities in order to save those he loves. Gardner deftly plays out the same brand of intrigue, romance, and murky intentions beautifully rendered in recent period magician films, The Prestige and The Illusionist. Readers will root for Yann and Sido as they struggle toward adulthood amid the political and social turmoil surrounding and sometimes endangering them. At the book’s end, Gardner provides further historical background on late-18th-century France, though most readers will find themselves wishing simply for a sequel to continue this engrossing tale.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
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Wednesday, January 6, 2009
I put this one away in about three days. If I’d had more time (it’s been a very busy week so far) I’d have done it in less.
Strengths: As historical fiction goes, it was fairly accurate. I appreciated the author’s notes at the end that included a timeline of the French Revolution. Overall solid characterizations, likable characters (I was particularly drawn to Sido’s character–some bit of Jane Eyre-like modeling of her early on, in my opinion). Excellently set up for sequel possibilities.
Potential Flaws: In hindsight, I might have made better use of the author’s notes if they were used as a preface to the novel. As I read, I sensed some disjointedness in the passage of time–inexplicable lapses of time that left me puzzled. Having the timeline (even a general one) prior to reading the story might have prevented that. However, this was only a minor disruption to the flow.
While updating my “What I’m Reading” image widget for I, Coriander, I stumbled upon Gardner’s sequel! The Silver Blade is currently available! I hope to track down a copy soon.