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This book has a strong opening: lots of interesting concepts, a fascinating setting and a fair few mysteries to ponder. And then to my eye it runs out of steam - I really want to know what happens, but find the style - lots of courtly manners and formal dialogue - dreadfully hard going. There are good plot developments, but they seemed a long time coming. If you like your intrigue to be developed slowly, perhaps to illustrate more clearly a society bogged down in tradition, then this is worth a try. If you're into rebellion and off-the-wall ideas, then perhaps not.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2003
This is an adult fairy story with some horror and hinted sexuality blended in. It is narrated in a very simple almost prudish style (reminded me very slightly of Jane Austin), I thought it would appeal to 12-13 year olds. The story style is refreshing and overall the ideas in the book are entertaining. It is obvious who the goodies and baddies are, though the characters are subtly drawn showing flaws and leading the reader to like and dislike individuals as the story develops. As with all fairytales this can be understood on a number of levels, unfortunately the writer did not use the opportunity to develop this well, so only the clear storyline is obvious. If you look deeper there is nothing there. However as a well written escapist tale it transports you for a short time into an alternative Venice that many would enjoy a visit to.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2003
I saw this reviewed well in the Guardian and bought it. Nothing wrong with the plot outline: renaissance society in a timeless 'Venice' is changed through the influence of genetically modified human slaves brought in from a foreign state. Church and tradition regard the genics as sub-human, how will four of them find their places in this water-lapped city? I got inreasingly fed-up, though, with the over simplifications running through the book. The evil count - Count Dracone, puhleese - is nothing but a cypher trafficking with devils, all that is needed to deal with his machinations is faith, and all the presumably deep-ingrained prejudice against the genics is smoothly washed away by a few people speaking out against it. For me, the bones of a good story, but lacking shades of grey and enough character detail to believe in them.
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