Not many of today’s young readers are likely to be familiar with Baroness Orczy’s stories of the Scarlet Pimpernel – a pity, since they would provide an appropriate taste of what is to come in Sally Gardner’s excellent novel. A sequel to the widely acclaimed The Red Necklace (though thoroughly capable of being read and enjoyed in its own right), it sets itself, mainly in Paris, during the period of French history generally referred to as the Reign of Terror. These, as a café barman expresses it at one point, are ‘the days of murder and mourning’. Weaving his way through these tempestuous times is the dashing gypsy magician hero, Yann Margoza, who combines a vaudevillian career in the ‘Circus of Follies’ with the rescuing of fading aristocrats and their safe transport to England. And it is in England that the beautiful Sido de Villeduval, Yann’s beloved, resides… Romance, fantasy and occasional moments of gruesome Gothic-style horror blend attractively, the horror emanating principally from the villain of the piece, the supposedly dead Count Kalliovski, who, with his red kid gloves, monstrous hound and some extremely unsavoury bony companions, lives in the city’s catacombs. There are, perhaps, a few times when Gardner’s prose veers towards the unnecessarily decorative but, overall, it is hard to imagine a contemporary work of children’s historical fiction more superbly conceived or more engagingly executed. Highly recommended.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Richard Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Richard Hill2009-09-01 15:15:222022-12-10 15:18:14The Silver Blade