Monday 9 August 2010

The Midnight Charter by David Whitley

For Review: Puffin. Published August 6th 2009
From Amazon: In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?

This is one of books I am really glad I was offered to review. Although very different from what I usually read I found myself completely charmed by it.

Although technically fantasy it didn’t feel it and I think this is due to David Whitley’s writing style. He had me hooked from the first chapter with his eloquent narrative and I found myself completely engrossed. It took me a while to read this but I wanted to read every word on the page and just savour it.

Whitley has created a very interesting world here. I thought it felt kind of Dickensian – I could really picture it as a BBC Adaptation – with the dialogue and descriptions of Agora really making it feel as if it were set in the past. The concept of everything being something you can trade – including your emotions or even your own child – is a scary one. But it had me completely intrigued. How did this come to be? Why? And why did Mark and Lilly seem so important?

I loved Lilly from the start. She has strength and determination – but she is also very caring. Mark seemed slightly naive – and had a weakness about him that made me not warm to him as much as Lilly. I found both of their stories appealing but must admit I preferred Lilly’s story to Mark’s. I think this is due to there being more characters present in Lilly’s life – Theo, Ben, Laud and Gloria were great characters in their own right.

The story does move at a slow pace, being more of a saunter than a rollercoaster ride, but I really enjoyed the gentle way it lead me to the end. All the pieces of the puzzle cleverly came together, and although you do get answers they do create more questions. And yes, there is a cliff-hanger ending. I must say I am really looking forward to The Children of the Lost and finding out what will happen next.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome review. I hadn't heard of this one :) I love seamless fantasy :)

Unknown said...

I laughed out loud when I read this bit: Although technically fantasy it didn’t feel it.

I think you need to open your mind to the fact that fantasy rocks!!! Fantasy doesn't have to be boring and convuluted, it can be brilliant and easy to visualise.

Anyway, I am so glad that you are trying more fantasy. I hope you stick with it and find some new favourite authors.



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