This is the fourth book that has been written by Michelle Lovric. Every single story is a little time capsule of Venice which has been written in a place and time (1780's) that you could easily lose yourself in. Each story is a painted picture cleverly written in words. The Fate in the Box slowly winds through the streets of Venice in a colourful and vibrant way that makes it a very pleasurable read.
The venetian cries easily wash over you with charm and panache; the story ouses character from every page. There is a great sense of place and time that is quickly established and sets you on a journey of cleverly woven intrigue and mystery. The best way that I can describe this book is that of a Venetian snow globe which is gently shaken from time to time. The observer is then able to watch the wonders (through the snow) slowly begin to reveal themselves. It is enchanting!
The historical and factual partnership make a brilliant platform in which to weave a fantasy path. Both elements will have you hooked in a unique and special way. The author's knowledge and passion shines through every page like the skilled glassblowers of Murano, who are featured within the story.
Fogfinger rules Venice - his Fog Squad and spies can be found everywhere. The Venetians fear him and obey him. He rules over with menace, ugliness and horror, so don't be surprised to read about an army of dead animals that are reanimated as automata! The inhabitants are all ruled with fear, but they remain intensely proud of their city. Every year one of their children is lost in a grisly Lambing Ceremony - the child must climb the bell tower and let the Fate in the Box (a grinning skull inside a jack-in-the-box) decide their destiny. Most end their days in the jaws of the primeval crocodile that lurks in the lagoon or at least that is what Fogfinger tells them. . . . .
The book is full of courage, daring deeds and humour. The main characters Amneris, Tockle and Biiri aim to uncover the mysteries and seek answers..... but they may not stay alive long enough to reveal Venice's secrets and be able to defeat Fogfinger and his fate in the box.
The book is superbly plotted with some very enchanting ideas e.g. walls that have tiny ears to listen in on anyone who criticises the evil ruler. The lazy inhabitants rely on various automata inventions which are described in particularly vivid detail and will easily capture your imagination e.g. magical talking statues, winged cats and the infamous mermaids (from the previous books) that are known as the protectors of Venice.
There is so much going on in this story that you are never quite sure what's coming around the corner. It could be amazingly written dialogue one minute quickly followed by humour and laughs the next. With a combination of suspense, mystery, horror and mayhem this story really does have the lot. It is a truly creative and, in my opinion, a one of a kind reading experience. I'm really looking forward to the next book.......
For more on the books or the author, check out the books web site.