The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner

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Orion Children's Books. ISBN 978184255 5972.
Highly recommended for ages 12 years and up. The book and cover design are striking features and immediately the reader is drawn into   this exciting historical narrative, with a mix of magic and reality. Set at the time of the French Revolution the action takes place in Paris and London.  The cities and surrounding countryside are grim, dirty and fully of seedy characters. Sally Gardner brings together all the best ingredients for a wonderful historical novel, dusted with a touch of fantasy which adds to the enjoyment of this story.  Yann Margoza is the young hero, attached to a band of persecuted gypsies, who helps desperate people to escape the guillotine and run away to England. Villainous deeds planned by the evil Parisian, Kalliovski, ensure he has his quota of victims for the gruesome blade. He thwarts Yan's every move; even using the girl Yan loves, to entrap him. Plenty of excitement and just the right amount of tension bring this story to a satisfying conclusion. Gardner is a storyteller not a historian, but she has created fine characters playing out a great story at the time of the French Revolution showing the reader what life may have been like for many.
The narrative is enhanced by the use of a coloured and larger font for a few sentences at the beginning of each chapter. This technique sets the scene clearly. Language throughout the novel has an authentic touch, but is easily accessible. This title follows The Red Necklace written in 2007. A different story published in 2005, I, Coriander, is equally enjoyable to read.
Julie Wells