Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

The story of a remarkable boy called Yann Margoza; Tetu the dwarf, his friend and mentor; Sido, unloved daughter of a foolish Marquis; and Count Kalliovski, Grand Master of a secret society, who has half the aristocracy in thrall to him, and wants Yann dead. Yann is spirited away to London but three years later, when Paris is gripped by the bloody horrors of the Revolution, he returns, charged with two missions: to find out Kalliovski's darkest deeds and to save Sido from the guillotine. 


Genre: historical fantasy

Rating: 4/5

Reading Challenges: European Reading Challenge 

 As an adventure novel, this harkened back to the likes of The Scarlet Pimpernel, with the French Revolution being used as the backdrop for daring-do. The lovely Sido is at the mercy of not only her hateful father, but also the truly menacing Count Kalliovski, who wants her and her fortune for himself. That being said, when the action is going the book is very good. The weakness is that sometimes the action seems rushed while some of the more unimportant scenes seem drawn out. The other weakness is that Sido just isn't a very engaging female lead. She really doesn't show enough personality to explain Yann's fascination with her. She's basically there as a plot device, but for a plot device she's given a lot of scenes. Which get boring. 

The villain is threatening though and his machinations and everyone working against them are the best parts. He's deadly and hateful and nearly gets away with it all in spite of everyone's efforts. The fantasy element is a little out there sometimes, but is at least useful. The book on the whole is a nice little adventure. Nothing earth shattering, but something that teenagers would enjoy as an exciting read, especially with the fascination with the French Revolution that I've always encountered with my students.

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