Title: The Red Necklace
Author: Sally Gardner
Genre: Historical novel,
Published: October 2007 by Orion Publishing Group
Recommended for ages 12 and up
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Audiobook: Narrated by Tom Hiddleston
Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins (Abridged)
Audible Release Date: 2007
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?
Here’s a summary from the publisher:
A mysterious gypsy boy, Yann Margoza, and his guardian, a dwarf, work for the magician Topolain in 1789. On the night of Topolain’s death, Yann’s life truly begins. That’s when he meets Sido, an heiress with a horrible father. An attachment is born that will determine both their paths. Revolution is afoot in France, and Sido is being used as a pawn. Only Yann will dare to rescue her from a fearful villain named Count Kalliovski. It will take all of Yann’s newly discovered talent to unravel the mysteries of Sido’s past and his own and to fight the devilish count.
WHAT DID I THINK OF THE BOOK?
Well, I didn’t actually read the book. I only listened to the audiobook. I’ve been too busy these days to read an actual book, so I picked it up as an audiobook, which I listened to during my commute to and from work every day. It was a tad hard to keep track of lines I liked because I had to remember the line since I can’t mark it, so I ended up just remembering a few quotes I liked (I’m not even that sure if I got the words correctly) 😆
The premise seemed interesting enough and it had an element of fantasy in it, so I figured it would be right up my alley but I was still uncertain whether I should go for it or not. What sealed the deal for me was the narrator. To be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t have bothered picking up the audiobook if it weren’t read by Tom Hiddleston. There, I said it. Shallow? Probably. But, by gosh, Mr. Hiddleston has such a lovely voice, I must say. And he read this book so beautifully and with such emotion. He makes a wonderful storyteller.
So, back to the story. It’s a historical novel with some gypsy magic blended in. It’s basically about this boy, Yann Margoza who comes from a gypsy clan and can throw his voice, read minds, and see “threads of light” that enable him to move things with the power of his mind. He was raised by a dwarf named Têtu who was friends with his mother who passed away when Yann was very young. They encounter a terrible villain named Count Kalliovski who has a fixation on Sido (Yann’s leading lady). All of this happened during the years that the French Revolution was brewing.
The Count, Sido, and Yann’s fates are intertwined. There are deaths and murders, gyspy magic, guillotines. Oh, and the title “The Red Necklace” comes from the Count’s signature of leaving behind a necklace of garnets on people he has murdered, making it look like their throats were slit and bleeding.
Most of the French aristocrats were selfish and petty. I really felt sorry for them and the ordinary people who suffered and remained poor. I found the Marquis de Villeduval to be the most annoying of all. Yann was all right, a little annoying at first but eventually became a decent and charming protagonist. Sido, I can’t really say much about her. Always the pretty damsel in distress. A bit forgettable, I think. I was rooting for her only because Yann cared about her and her idiot of a father (the Marquis) was such a mean bloke to her.
The end, I warn you is not actually the end. As the last line of the book said, “Our story is over, though in its end lies its beginning.” Apparently, this book has a sequel.
- “Live in the moment, don’t live with regret.” – Yann
- “Love needs no justification.” – Têtu
- Our story is over, though in its end lies its beginning.
TO WRAP IT UP…
The story didn’t really establish a more detailed background or mythology regarding the gypsy magic, “threads of light,” as well as the Count’s mysterious existence, evil deeds, and seemingly eternal youth. I kinda think this aspect wasn’t very well thought out. It was just there when it was needed. It just mentioned things or explained things briefly. However, it did circle back to Count Kalliovski and Yann, eventually. And I think the story captured the darkness, panic, and unfortunate circumstances that ultimately led to the French Revolution. I feel sorry for all those who suffered and died. Death by guillotine… Surely, no one wants to die that way. Such a horrible way to go.
Most of the characters, I didn’t really feel much for them. I didn’t find the book to be such a page turner. If I were reading the actual book, I’d probably have taken weeks or months to finish reading it because it just didn’t capture my imagination much. And I probably would’ve been sad if I bought it brand new from the bookstore. But I just borrowed the audiobook, so all is well. And since I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the book, I finished it in a week while riding the train, mainly because Tom Hiddleston really did a brilliant job telling the story. It’s not really a bad story or anything like that, it just didn’t catch my interest as much as I hoped it would.
As earlier mentioned, the end of the book isn’t really the end. It has a sequel, so you must read the sequel if you want to know what happens next to Yann and Sido’s story. I really doubt I’d be reading the sequel… unless Tom Hiddleston reads the audiobook version of it (which I don’t think he did).