Daily Archives: June 28, 2008

The Red Necklace

I can’t believe that this book has been lying in my TBR pile since Christmas. For shame! When I saw that there was a new Sally Gardner novel sometime last November, I was desperate for it, since I adored I, Coriander. So it’s quite impressive/unacceptable that this one has been unread for so long. I really must stop buying so many books. The good ones are lying about all forlorn for far too long (virtual wrist-slapping). The Red Necklace is in many respects, the perfect summertime/anytime read – a splendid story, with a rich historical backdrop and a little magic mixed in for good measure. It’s a treat from start to finish.

It’s Paris, 1789, and the Revolution is brewing. Yann Margoza, a young gypsy, works with a pair of magicians/illusionists in one of the most popular magic shows on the Paris stage. At the same time, the Marquis de Villeduval lives a life of luxury and excess in his chateau outside the city, and he has just brought his unwanted daughter Sido out of her convent school to live with him for the first time in many years. Count Kalliovski, powerful but brutal, lends money to desperate aristocrats, but takes their secrets and much more in exchange. Events conspire to bring all of these characters together, resulting in a complex and suspenseful story.

This is a tale about fate and destiny, passion, facing past demons and risking everything for one’s beliefs. I can hardly think of a better way to pique young readers’ interest in this historical period. While the Revolution is present mostly behind the narrative, it certainly adds turbulence and drama to an already exciting plot. I enjoyed the magical element to the story too. The scenes at the beginning of the book in which the magicians work the automaton, “Pierrot,” reminded me in mood of the film The Illusionist. A similar creepy tension builds right from the start. This is a page-turner with depth. The awesome Amanda Craig named it her Book of the Year for 11-13s, with good reason I think. And, by the way, what do you think of this cover, compared to the one above?

Quite something. I bet this is the winner with teen readers.