Merry Wanderer of the Night + young adult

The Red Necklace

Sally Gardner's The Red Necklace

takes place during the French Revolution. Yann Margoza is a Gypsy who has no knowledge of his background or family but is able to throw his voice. He is working for a magician. Yann and the other magicians are taken to the home of Marquis de Villeduval upon the order of Count Kalliovski. Here the young men put on a magic show for the French aristocrats, including the Marquis' daughter Sido. Sido has been away at school for some time, but is also brought to the house upon the order of Count Kalliovski. She has a limp and her father hates her, but she has a good heart and great spirit.

Yann is also gifted with the ability to read minds. As soon as he meets Sido he falls in love with her. He hears her desperation and he wants to help her. The Marquis is convinced by Kalliovski that Sido should be married to him. Kalliovski is very evil, not to mention a little old for Sido. Sido feels like she has no choice. Kalliovski is a very influential man but there are many questions in the air about him. Not to mention the many murders that have happened on his watch, which always end with the victim's neck donning a red necklace. Sido is creeped out by Kalliovski but she feels there is nothing she can do.

When Yann returns from London a few years after first meeting Sido he discovers the Count's desire to marry her. He immediately comes to her rescue, risking everything to help her even though he knows they are of very different classes and could never hope to marry.

This was the first novel I read for my Young Adult Self Challenge. I love the French Revolution so this was a great book for me to start with, although there wasn't quite enough history for me. The mania of the time is definitely portrayed but there is not a great amount of information or historical context. Still, I enjoyed the book for a YA novel. Yann is a fantastic character and a great hero. I loved the parts where he learns about who his real parents are and what happened to them. His ability to read minds was interesting, but it didn't feel too hokey to me. There wasn't quite enough about Sido in the book for me to really like her. She just seemed kind of sad and bleh. Also, the novel says she has brown hair but the woman on the cover has blonde hair? Perhaps I was missing something with that but it always frustrates me when covers don't line up with books.

Pub. Date: September 2009

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Format: Paperback, 416 pp

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The Red Necklace + young adult