Sally Gardner is an old style storyteller, in the best possible way. I had waited, and waited, with bated breath for the sequel to The Red Necklace, and I gather from Sally’s blog that some of that wait was due to 21st century computer problems. I don’t know what her first five last chapters were like, but the published last chapters are pretty satisfying. I was interrupted in my reading when I had twenty pages left, and I was not as polite as I might have been.
The appearance in the story of an actual silver blade, a miniature guillotine, made me think of the Scarlet Pimpernel, that old favourite from my childhood. It’s been so long since there were new old traditional French Revolution stories, that I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to read them. This is great for a new generation of readers, who may not have tried the classics.
The story about Yann and Sido continues, with Sido ‘safely’ in London, and Yann doing his Pimpernel stuff in France. As befits a really bad baddie, Count Kalliovski isn’t as dead as we’d hoped, and he finds himself a new nasty helper, who I could tell was bad news as soon as I set eyes on him, so to speak.
There are some satisfying subplots, and also something from The Red Necklace which ties the story up very neatly. I was fairly certain this was the kind of book that had to end well, and if you don’t count all the dead and headless people, that’s what happens.
I wonder how ‘real’ the gypsy magic is? Without it the story wouldn’t work, but my rational mind tells me this is fantasy, except it feels so real it shouldn’t be. Regardless, it’s very fascinating, and I do like people who talk to horses.
As with The Red Necklace, The Silver Blade is a beautiful book, with the Paris map and the beginning of each chapter in contrasting font size and colour.