Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Red Necklace Review (Sally Gardner)

The winds of change are blowing through Paris in 1789, both for France and a mysterious Gypsy boy named Yann Margoza. He was born with a gift for knowing what people are thinking and an uncanny ability to throw his voice, skills he uses while working for a foolish magician. On the night of a special performance, he meets shy Sido, a lonely heiress with a cold-hearted father. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both of their paths. While revolution is afoot in France, Sido is being used as the pawn of the fearful villain Count Kalliovski. Some have instead called him the devil; and only Yann, for Sido's sake, will dare to oppose him.

I had my doubts about this book when I first picked it up. I saw it as one that could have the potential of swinging in either direction - and violently. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was absolutely captivated by it. Sally Gardner's style of writing for this particular book struck an immediate interest in me. It was very quaint and classic, but hilarious. I laughed myself silly over the passages concerning the Marquis de Villeduval and his extravagances.

Concerning the characters themselves, I have little negative comments. I was concerned that Sido would be like every other aristocratic-bred heroine out there - hard to like and stubborn to an annoying degree. Sido wasn't. She was intelligent, stubborn to a good degree, and trusting of those who ought to be trusted. What bad circumstances happened to her were not brought on by her own stupidity, but simply bad circumstances. My heart went out to her completely. Yann, too, is a very likable character, and not the typical modern adolescent hero who cannot stop thinking about the heroine. Yann does think about Sido, but in terms of rescuing her, not how smooth her skin is. Those sort of thoughts are always covered in the quickest and most fleeting manner, which is pleasing. And Count Kalliovski gave me tingles up my spine, which usually means that he is an excellent villain.

However, Sally Gardner likes to dabble in the strange. Her stories can seem very normal, but then there will be an element that will make you pause and wonder, "Where did she get that?!" Yann reading minds and Tetu the dwarf being able to move objects without touching them were acceptable. Strange, but acceptable. But then things became stranger when Yann visits a group of Gypsies in London, and then later breaks into Kalliovski's townhouse. That is when it got really strange. It didn't entirely ruin my high opinion of the story itself, but it certainly puzzled me. It wasn't entirely out of place, but then again, it didn't fit in. It was just strange. Thankfully, such parts are not common in The Red Necklace.

I look forward to reading its sequel - The Silver Blade.

Star Rating: 4/5 (really liked it)

Others in This Series:
1)The Red Necklace
2)The Silver Blade

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