Friday, 19 November 2010

Michelle Lovric - The Mourning Emporium - Book Review

The Mourning Emporium
                                                     
Two summers ago, Venice was dying and an 11-year-old girl made her first (so she thought) visit to the city where she instantly felt she belonged. Teodora, it transpired, was the undrowned child, destined to save Venice from its long-standing enemy, Bajamonte Tiepolo, the traitor. According to a long ago prophecy, Teo and Renzo (the studious son) were the only people equipped to defeat the baddened magic that the traitor brought to the stricken city. But they couldn't kill him - and so, subdued, but bitter, he returned to his shadowy existence. Now he's back. And in need of a new army, he sets his sights on London - which is weak with mourning the death of the Queen, Victoria. Teo and Renzo find themselves on board a ship for orphans whose course seems mysteriously set for London. Once again, destiny brings them face to face with their enemy, who will stop at nothing to destroy not only London and Venice but the children at the heart of the prophecy that binds him to his failure.


This is the second book from the acclaimed debut novelist, who wrote 'The Undrowned Child', last year. The historical features and elements of Venice are clearly introduced at the beginning of this story. Every page turned pieces together yet another pictorial aspect of this great city and creates a lasting impression. In fact the more you read, the more you want to visit and explore this great wonder of a city. The historical detail, threaded throughout the story, creates a unique and rich back drop for the introduction of a number of wonderful and crazy characters.

Starting off on a roller-coaster ride of words, the author has the amazing ability to tell a story with a poetic voice. Sometimes she invents intriguing new words or accents, in order to fit the characters profile, which I really liked and found interesting.  Elements of the story are purely fantastical, with just a hint of truth to blend the story together.

The most memorable part for me included the characters Bajamonte Tiepolo and Miss Uish, who are the haunted and sinister plotters of evil - insatiable reading which had me hooked.  I only have one slight niggle about the ending. After the action-packed outcome, I felt the story went a little limp and ended up dragging its heels a bit.

This is a book to be enjoyed by lovers of great fictional writing. It has a lot going on from ghosts to talking animals and mermaids to blood-sucking leeches. Never mind the torture, battles and frolics to be found on the high sea. The author has made good use of her personal knowledge of both London and Venice to lift this adventure - infusing it with charm and character that you don't always find. This should surely tempt you to get your hands on a copy of this book.

I would love to hear your comments about this book.


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