on 18 February 2012
Mysterious creatures, invisible to adults, have invaded Venice and are issuing terrible threats to the inhabitants. People and cats are disappearing in the middle of the night. Only one not-quite-girl can save the city.
I have really enjoyed Michelle Lovric's previous books, but this was the best yet. The writing is beautiful and there are so many imaginative and unusual ideas and turns of phrase. I adored the cats and the street-Felish that they spoke. Talina was a charming character too; by turns tough and gentle, outspoken and determined. I especially loved the phrase 'to have a flouncy'.
Altogether this is a colourful, exciting and well-imagined adventure for the 9+ age range and should delight many readers.
I love a great story that takes you on a whirlwind adventure and to be honest Michelle's writing always does that for me. Here in the latest release is a story that gives you magic, high adventure and of course an overall arc that will enchant you from the first page to the last. Add to this Michelle's solid use of prose, cracking dialogue and a lead character that the readers will want to embark on their adventure with and it's a story that was a pure joy to read.
Finally add to this a sense of whimsy, an enchanting story overall and a whole host of supporting cast members that will make this a hard tale to forget. Great stuff.
on 25 February 2012
I enjoyed this book a lot. Reading it, I was enveloped in a cocoon of magic, taking me to a nineteenth century Venice where magic openly exists. The Ravageurs were the first example of this magic, being rowed about by rats and stealing away people for some horrible purpose.
The cover is gorgeous - all purple and gold, while the image of the Ravageur on the back cover is suitably hideous (my 8yo referred to this book as 'the one with the scary thing on the back'). I do wonder, though, whether the pretty cover would deter boy readers who are likely to enjoy the story. Talina is no girly-girl and the story is essentially a quest-type adventure.
I really liked Talina as a character. I do have a soft spot for bold girls and Talina is certainly that. Famous for her impudence and temper, she has the nerve to go against adult characters (who can be in the wrong) and to fight to save her parents and Venice as a whole. She also does develop through the course of the story and isn't quite the same Talina at the end as at the beginning.
The narration is third person, allowing some comment on and description of Talina from the outside and there are some wonderful touches in the dialogue. I appreciated the way some of the male cats spoke, showing their masculinity and roughness (like "dat's da troof"), and the fake French accents used by the Ravageurs to hide their true origins.
I haven't read Lovric's earlier Venice novels, so I can't comment on their connection, but I believe that this story does stand alone, with no need to read the others first. The story certainly felt complete to me, with no sense that I was missing something.
Once of the things I loved most about this book was the addition at the back of a section entitled "What is real and what is made up". These few pages precisely outline which elements of the story are factual and which are invented (unsurprisingly!). I would have loved this kind of detail as a child, and I'm sure my daughter will lap this up too. I was surprised at some of the small details which had come from historical fact; this section definitely added to my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, this is a classic children's fantasy with magical creatures, well-rounded characters and plenty of twists and setbacks.
on 5 March 2012
What a delightful book this was!
I haven't read any books by Michelle Lovric before, but I quickly went out to purchase the other two books in her children's series - The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium.
I loved the characters in the book. They were full of quirks that made them so real and extremely funny. Talina is a very strong character - no one messes with her. She is like a tornado as she jumps in head first to sort the whole of Venice out almost single handedly. I think she is one of the strongest female characters I have read since finishing meeting Katniss in The Hunger Games. Her love for her family spurs her into action and she will stop at nothing until she finds her parents.
The writing is beautiful and descriptive allowing you to sample life in Venice just by turning the page. The imagery is stunning and I found myself desperately wanting to visit Venice, but with Michelle as my tour guide. With each description of Venice, you can tell how much the author loves the city; her words breathe out enthusiasm and affection. The dialogue is hilarious. I loved the accents of the cats in it, it truly brought them to life.
I love the way the author has intermingled fantasy with reality. A cast of fantasy and mythical creatures intermingling with humans as they wander through the real streets of Venice.
The plot had me hooked from the first page, as I wondered what on earth was happening to all the people of the town. Michelle Lovric has created an enchanting novel that has left me wanting more.
on 9 March 2012
I put this on a very close level to one of my favorite children's books, "Thomasina" by Paul Gallico. Although the two writers are very different, both have a sense of humor, an intimate knowledge of cats, a talent to tell a good story and a generosity in sharing their imagination.
As is "Thomasina," Lovric's "Talina in the Tower" is also, in my opinion, a "cross over" book to be enjoyed by both adults and children.