My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The moment I started this book I knew I would love it. I’m a sucker for anything set in Venice anyway, but the opening pages told me that this was a writer with a story to tell. I was excited at the prospect of getting lost in the plot…
One of the main characters in this book has problems with verbosity. He cannot recant a tale without filling in details that drag the story out unnecessarily. This is an unfortunate ailment from which Michelle Lovric herself seems to suffer, along with a tendency to add twists and turns that, rather than exciting, lead you to think – Really? Are we STILL not getting to the point yet?
And I think this may, in part, be the curse of the historian. While the underlying plot is brilliant and compelling, Lovric’s agenda in retelling so much of the history of Venice clouds the telling of the tale. A historian needs to pay attention to detail in order to deduce fact and truth: a children’s story has no need for such minutiae.
If you’re wondering why I’ve awarded this novel four stars and then criticised it so blatantly the answer is simple. I love Venice. I love reading about Venice. I thoroughly enjoyed all the historic references, geographical tours and tourist trap cameos. My favourite part of the entire book was without doubt the appendix, in which Lovric not only highlights the places in the novel which can be visited today, but also expands upon the historical elements of the story, stating which bits are fact and which are fantasy.
There is an excellent and imaginative story hidden within this novel. My concern is that most 9-12 year olds won’t possess the tenacity to access it.