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Inventive, but could have been better
on 26 August 2011
This is the first book I have read by Cornelia Funke and I was expecting something more from such a big-name author. The story is entertaining enough: a reluctant detective is in search of two orphans, who turn out to be living with a gang of street children in Venice. There is a bit of magic, neatly done, and Venice is well described and is an integral part of the plot. Most importantly, despite the intricacies of the plot, Cornelia Funke never loses sight of her characters: they are lively individuals, each with different personalities. There is a warmth and kindness to the story, despite its villains, which I liked.
However, although the story begins well, it then slows down for several chapters while we find out where the orphans are, how they got there, and who they are with, and are given a brief history of each of the gang members. I very nearly gave up at this point, but once it gets going again the story races along satisfactorily. Young readers of 8-12 who like adventure stories will enjoy this.
The book is a translation and is marred by sloppy editing. There are a couple of spelling mistakes and some misplaced punctuation - unfortunate in a book for children.