Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Red Necklace

Gardner, Sally. 2008. THE RED NECKLACE. New York: Dial. ISBN 9780803731004 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

In this richly detailed novel, the turbulent years leading up to the French Revolution serve as a backdrop to dark family mysteries and betrayals. Yann, an orphaned gypsy, earns his room and board by using his mind-reading and voice-throwing abilities in a successful magic show. While performing at a wealthy aristocrat’s chateau, Yann shares a brief conversation with the neglected marquis’s daughter, Sido. This chance encounter influences both their paths in the following years. When the Reign of Terror descends on Paris, Yann and Sido must find a way to survive both the revolutionaries and the villainous Count Kalliovski who is stalking them across the country.

Sally Gardner’s blending of fantasy and historical fiction create an intriguing picture of this tragic time period. Even though the aristocrats can sense the coming violence, they are powerless to stop it. Readers will be caught up in the suspense of the drama as Yann and Sido desperately try to escape Count Kalliovski’s control and flee Paris. Gardner’s lyrical language and vivid descriptions of the wealth and beauty of the nobles contrasts well with the raw violence and poverty of the masses, leading the reader along the inevitable road to revolution.

This novel would complement a study of the French Revolution, particularly when paired with nonfiction books. The details about daily life and the underlying currents that led to the revolution would enhance discussions of the subject.

Other books blending historical fiction with fantasy:
Bray, Libba. A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY. ISBN 9780385732314
Doyle, Marissa. BEWITCHING SEASON. ISBN 9780805082517
Gardner, Sally. I, CORIANDER. ISBN 9780142407639
Kolosov, Jacqueline, THE RED QUEEN’S DAUGHTER. ISBN 9781423107972

By Kimberly C. Kinnaird

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