The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: September 2009
  • Publisher:Penguin Group (USA)
  • Format: Paperback, 416pp
  • Sales Rank: 64,343
  • Age Range: Young Adult

The Red Necklace is a historical fiction story that takes place during the French Revolution.  The story begins with a magic show.  Yann, a young gypsy orphan, is raised by Tetu, a dwarf that seems to be keeping secrets from him.  Yann can read minds and occasionally see into the future, while Tetu is able to move things without touching them.  The showman of the group is the magician Topolain.  Their show is so popular because they seem to give life to a doll.  Unfortunately, Topolain’s vanity and greed gets the best of him.  They end up taking a show for Count Kalliovski, which ends up with the murder of Topolain.  Yann and Tetu barely escape with the help of Sido, the marquis’s ignored daughter.  This is where the adventure begins.  Tetu puts plans in motion to have Yann go to London to stay with a banker’s family.  In their attempt to escape, Tetu is shot.  Yann believes him dead and forces himself to carry on with Tetu’s wishes.  Yann studies to become a gentleman in London, but destiny catches up to him.  He goes to the gypsy camp and trains to use the strings of light that allow Yann to move things without touching them.  Then Yann has to go back to Paris during the worst political uprising in their history and try to save Sido.

I really enjoyed this story.  I go back and forth with historical fiction.  There are times that I get bored with the setting and would like to have something either more fictional or more factual, but this was a great story.  The middle is a little slow, but the ending is definitely worth the wait.  I felt like I learned a bit about the French Revolution as well as enjoyed a great fantasy type story.  Yann is a character that you can really sink your teeth into.  He has multiple levels and the reader can struggle through life with him.  There are a few unanswered questions about his character which I think the author has given the reader room to interpret.  Sido is also a wonderful character.  She is such a good-hearted woman.  There is a large part of her character that is historically accurate, even though as a reader I don’t want her to be.  All in all, I think this would be a gripping tale to give to a student that is hesitant to read something that has to do with history.  It’s a good bridge with history and fantasy.

4/5 stars

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  1. I love historical fiction, probably one of the reason why I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. I think the inclusion of the gypsy culture will make this book an interesting read.

    • I really have to be in the right mood for historical fiction. I have just recently gotten on this kick to read things about the Tudors, so it is leading me into some other historical time periods. I think that if historical fiction is written well, then it really breaths life into the period and makes me want to read more.

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