Review of “The Red Necklace”

(Note, this is a re-post from my blog, but I thought that it was relevant to geeky news, as well.) Here you go.

For those of you who were wondering where my time had gone the last couple weeks, it’s to getting through the above listed work. I shall explain:

I am a large fan of the 2012 Avengers film Universe. As my phrasing implies, I consider the film’s canon to be completely separate from that of the comics. (If you don’t know what “canon” means, click here.) If you don’t read the comics, I guess you wouldn’t understand why that is, but as a person who occasionally dips into the sphere of geekdom, I have no choice but to acknowledge that the worlds presented in the movie and comics are completely different.

Not to mention that, it’s obvious that the actors and actress from the Avengers film were meant to be fawned over and generally stick women in those theatre seats – the action was already marketed for men, as I know for a fact that the media doesn’t believe women like comics (or lots of action, for that matter). I digress, though, because I don’t want this to become a breakdown of how I believe the  media system works in relation to the female demographic.

Anyway, I’m saying all this to get to the point, which is that I asdfjkl; over the Avengers movie cast. THEY’RE ALL SO PRETTY! I have a fan-crush on all of them, and when I’m not working on my own writing or pestering others about theirs I’m on tumblr, stalking them.

I’m not one of those crazy people that would send death threats if they do something I’m not fond of, but I am a fan of the entire star cast both as their characters and as actors. The film was done really well and I think that it was a longshot for another crew to do as well of a job. If you listen to our podcasts, you may have heard my stellar review of it (although I’ll admit it was more gushing than a professional review, I think I still got my point across).

One of the actors from that film, Tom Hiddleston (who played Loki in the film), did an audio book recording. If you’ve gone to see the movie, or if you’re a woman, or if you’re sexually attracted to Tom Hiddleston, you should immediately understand why this is a big deal. I was fangirling over it because I actually looked up the book.

I’ve watched countless interviews concerning not only Mister Hiddleston, but also the entire cast of the Avengers, who worked wonderfully together and have a camaraderie between them that is charismatic. To the point, Tom is a masterful actor, and he typically gets into his roles deeply and does research about them to help with his portrayal. He puts his all into projects he participates in, and because of that I was sure that if he found this book worthy of being performed he would do it well.

The Red Necklace is actually quite good.

I wanted to make that point first. It’s very easy to get sucked into the fangirliness of it all, to say that I only enjoyed this book because he was doing the audiobook. Hence getting it all out of the way above. I openly admit that originally acquired the book so that I could have him reading in my ear, and to that effect it delivered. Outside of the fangirl appeal, however, Sally Gardner’s novel is engaging, intriguing and enveloping.

I’m not going to spoil the book for anyone, in the case that you would like to go get it yourself, so I’ll quote the book’s synopsis:

Clever and head-turningly attractive, fourteen-year old Yann is an orphan who has been raised in Paris by Têtu, a dwarf with secrets he has yet to reveal to the gypsy boy. It’s the winter of 1789, and the duo have been working for a vain magician named Topolain. On the night when Topolain’s vanity brings his own death, Yann’s life truly begins. That’s the night he meets shy Sido, an heiress with an ice-cold father, a young girl who has only known loneliness until now. Though they have the shortest of conversations, an attachment is born that will influence both their paths.
And what paths those will be! Revolution is afoot in France, and Sido is being used as a pawn. Only Yann will dare to rescue her, and he’ll be up against a fearful villain who goes by the name Count Kalliovski, but who has often been called the devil. It’ll take all of Yann’s newly discovered talent to unravel the mysteries of his past and Sido’s and to fight the devilish count.

And boom goes the dynamite. This book takes place during the beginnings of the French Revolution and continues until it is well underway.

For those of you who may be put off by the involvement of male and female characters being described as intertwined, I would like to make a disclaimer on this book’s behalf: although the synopsis heavily implies that this is a romance novel, I would beg to differ.

There is just the right amount of chemistry between these characters, but if gratuitous 18th century sex is what you were hoping to find, these are not the droids you’re looking for. This novel is heavily disproportionate in the ratio of romance to action and discovery, and I believe that to be a good thing.

If you’ve read my about, you’re surely sighing and pouting. “What do you mean that’s a good thing? Don’t you write porn? Don’t you love reading it?”

Yes. And double yes.

But there is a time and a place, and most novels whose focus is only romance are not written well or aren’t very entertaining (at least for my standards. As a person who enjoys fantasy and sci-fi, I admit that my standards for entertainment may be a bit high). The Red Necklace instead gives you exactly what it sounds like, a young attraction attempting to thrive during dangerous times – that is, acknowledged but repressed by the urgency of survival.

Tom Hiddleston’s performance enhanced my experience; he was very good with character accents. Even with tertiary characters, they felt unique, and voices were only repeated in situations where mobs were shouting – something I can hardly hold against a single performer. Hiddles managed to give women an acceptable voice, and his accents went from Cockney to Scottish to French and back again, in most cases for both genders as well.

Hiddles, however, is not the only reason you should get your hands on this book. Gardner manages to breathe life into her rendition of revolutionary France. The discord between the commoner and aristocrat is shown through a variety of situations and characters, from street level to those with titles and wealth. There are multitudes of ways in which France as a nation, and the main characters within are connected, least of which is the menacing Count Kalliovski. Even in text, the characters jump to life, and you feel as attached to them as they are to each other.

By the end of this novel, I was thorough satisfied yet yearning for the next in the series (the sequel, FYI, is called The Silver Blade). In fact, I ordered it about four days ago and it just arrived in the mail!

What I liked most about this novel was the above feeling. It is difficult sometimes to achieve a state where most of the questions in the novel have been answered and yet there is also a lead-on for the next title. Less skillful authors (a category that I also fit into) typically leave an unaccounted factor or two that is to be explored in depth in the succeeding work. In The Red Necklace, while one or two pieces of revealed information may perhaps have a more detailed story behind them, the read is able to walk away with a sense of completion, and all of the questions raised during the story pertaining to the backstory and structure are answered for you.

Consistency and the ability to be a self-contained work is important to me.

All in all, the characters and setting are very engaging, and you want to know more about the universe of the novel the more you read. There were rarely any issues with grammar or composition, as should be the case in a novel. The main characters were lovable and cute, and although I had this read to me by an awesome actor, it was enjoyable enough in its own right for me to purchase it despite having already benefited from doing so.

Rating: 8/10

Go buy that biatch! ♥

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