Charlotte and Sonja are identical twins and musical prodigies. They live with Tatty, their adoptive mother and their home is the circus which travels through the Outskirts. This is a world that is being taken over by the cities and difference can attract the attention of the Enforcers. Increasingly their music results in strange occurrences. Then their talents disappear and the twins find themselves in very real danger together with all those that they love. The twins must embark on a desperate journey not only to save their world, but to find out who they are themselves.
This is a rich, sprawling, intricate and immersive fantasy that draws inspiration from the wonderful imagination of the Arabian Nights as well as such masters as China Miéville and Dickens. Recommend it to young readers who are adventurous and ready for something substantial.
We are in a rain-filled dystopia in which urban sprawl is overwhelming the world, crushing freedom to think, to imagine, to be talented, to be different. This is the aim of the Contessa and her son Kats Von Stralen – to capture the essence of Magic, keeping it for themselves. This is the importance of the Seven Edens – the realms of true imagination to be preserved and protected. However, this is not just a fantastical adventure of good versus bad, freedom versus enslavement, Malouf is also interested in relationships, in the journey from childhood to adolescence, the growing awareness that leads to maturity, the tensions that exist within families where bonds may be strong but not all members are worthy. The result is an exciting mix. The plot moves at a pace though the journey may take a labyrinthine route. The twins themselves are nicely differentiated with very distinct characters of their own. There is no danger in confusing one with the other and each have something important to add to the story. Adding to the narrative are the delicate line drawings by the author herself bringing together the exotic and the real. Malouf is a new voice to be welcomed.