One of my favorite books of 2005 was Sally Gardner’s book I, Coriander, a fascinating children’s historical set during the English Restoration, a time-period rarely written about in fiction. The story had compelling characters, exciting adventures, and a small amount of completely believeable fantasy, if that isn’t an oxymoron. The book enthralled me: I forced on many of my colleagues (all of whom loved it), and gave it to several family members for Christmas.
I was extremely excited, therefore, when I discovered that Sally Gardner had a new book coming out: The Red Necklace. This book is set during the French Revolution, a much more often written about time period, but the story is equally thrilling and captivating.
Right from the beginning, the book is captivating: Yann Margoza, an orphan, is part of a magic show, along with Tetu the dwarf, who raised him, and Topolaine, the magician. When the trio is hired to perform at a party given by the terrifying and mysterious Count Kalliovsky and his associate, a dangerously foolish Marquis, Yann meets the Marquis’ neglected daughter, Sidonie. The performance goes horribly wrong, one member of the group is murdered, and from that moment on, the story hurtles forward with an exhilarating and riveting momentum.
Much like in I, Coriander, the language is what tells us the story of The Red Necklace. Surprisingly, though, the language is not over-wrought: there are no long, overtly lyrical descriptive passages to get through to come back to the story. Each word the author uses is there to specifically set each scene, yet the tone is that of a lushly epic adventure; the result is a perfectly realized world with compelling, and achingly believeable characters.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, to children, young adults, and grown-ups. I promise that if you read it, you’ll be as excited as I am to hear that there is a sequel coming out next year.
Posted by: Sarah