The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

October 15, 2011
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The novel The Red Necklace written by the author, and illustrator Sally Gardner is quite a suspenseful young adult novel. As the Kirkus review declares, it is “[A] lush tale of magic, betrayal, and revolution…teen readers will eat this up.” Readers will definitely eat this up; it is a fabulous story of the French Revolution, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a colorful cast of characters and a slowly unraveling mystery. The Red Necklace has a very interesting main character, an intriguing setting, and a fascinating conflict.
The fourteen-year-old mysterious gypsy boy Yann Margoza is the main character of The Red Necklace. Yann Margoza has what is described as a sharp intelligent face, olive skin, a mop of jet black hair, and deep black “eyes as dark as midnight.” Yann is exceedingly solitary. He shows this by investigating, exploring and being extremely considerate of whatever city or town he is in until “it feels like a second skin.” What’s more, Yann was born with a gift for knowing what people are thinking, and an “uncanny ability” to throw his voice. He is the apprentice of two magicians Topolain and the dwarf Tetu. Yann and Tetu, his good friend and mentor, both reside in a rundown theater on the Rue du Temple in Paris. As a solitary gypsy boy, Yann creates an interesting main character.
Set in Paris, France during the French Revolution, The Red Necklace describes the environment of an aristocratic counts mansion, and a wide-eyed fourteen-year-old’s rundown theater dwelling. An example of the environment shown is the magician Topolain’s dressing room in the theater, which is described as “shabby as all the other dressing rooms, but it was a little larger, and had the decided privilege of having a fireplace. The log basket was all but empty and the fire near defeated by the cold.” That detail gave the impression that Topolain and Yann are extremely impoverished and live in a very bleak setting. An additional example for the environment in The Red Necklace is in the carriage of Count Kalliovski, which, “Milkeye” who is steward to the count, escorts the three magicians in. The carriage, as described in the novel, is “lacquered beetle black, with six fine white horses, stood waiting, shiny bright against the gray of the old snow, which was now being covered by a fine muslin layer of snowflakes. This carriage looked as if it had been sent from another world.” The carriage was meant to take them to the renowned Count Kalliovski’s home, and in some ways it really was sent from “another world,” a world so much different then the one they dwell in. These distinct settings in The Red Necklace (one luxurious and one impoverished) make for a creative and strong identity for Paris during the alarming time of the Bourbon Monarchy.
The fact that Yann Margoza has a nefarious feeling regarding the request to perform for the esteemed Count Kalliovski creates a central conflict in The Red Necklace. To back up Yann’s fright for not wanting to go and perform is the fact that he heard a female voice remark “The devil’s own is on your tail. Run like the wind.” Another example is that the fourteen year old states, “Please, let’s not go. I have a bad feeling.” The dwarf Tetu agrees with Yann because he believes in his psychic abilities. Topolain decides to go because it is an opportunity for their magician act to be introduced to the aristocratic world. In the end Yann’s vain employer Topolain’s self-admiration is the death of him. Yann then meets an heiress named Sido, whose father has a heart of steel. To conclude, the conflict is that Yann has an unsatisfactory feeling about performing for the renowned Count Kalliovski.
In my opinion The Red Necklace is a fabulous novel about the French Revolution. The main character, setting, and the conflict make for an extraordinarily amazing story. I would highly recommend The Red Necklace to anybody who is fond of a dramatic cast of characters, set within a slowly disentangling mystery.

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Canine666 said...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm
This book really captures a lot of detail and twists the plot around.  I loved this book.
Blaker replied...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 9:46 am
Me too, the way it distorted everything was really awesome. By the end, you didn't really know what was what.
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