Venice freezing over

Do you feel the chill? I certainly do. Michelle Lovric’s The Mourning Emporium doesn’t have lots of snow, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up for with ice. Ice in Venice. (Well, you can see from the name of that great city that ice is part of it.) Ice in London. And ice in-between.

This sequel to The Undrowned Child starts at Christmas with very cold weather in Venice, followed by illness and death. That’s dead Venetians and a few weeks later a dead Queen Victoria.

The villain Bajamonte Tiepolo is back and he’s behind all the deaths, except possibly that of the dear old Queen. Teo’s parents have been kidnapped and the mermaids have decamped to London. Soon everybody else – of those who are still alive – are on their way to London too, on a creaky old ship.

There’s less of the lovely food this time, because the London mermaids don’t hold with curry. Unfortunately. They like patent medicines, which is less tasty on the whole. Teo and Renzo and their shipmates meet a gang of London street urchins, whose job it is to cry. Hence the Mourning Emporium. Mourning is big business, even without Victoria’s imminent funeral to look forward to.

Just as in Venice, London is dying and it’s up to Teo and Renzo and their new friends to stop Bajamonte Tiepolo.

Plenty of humour here (‘cast asparagus’) and some new loveable characters, mostly animal. Sleeping with squirrels is a new trend for the cold. Seems they can keep you warm. White rats. Ew. Fat weasels. The whole zoo.

Great story, and Teo is another of those likeable heroines in fiction.

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