The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner

This sequel to The Red Necklace is just as winning a book as the first.  Readers are once again taken into the French Revolution with Yann and Sido.  Yann is still rescuing people from the bloody edge of the guillotine, spiriting them out of the country using his innate magic of the threads of light.  His nemesis Count Kalliovski is now living deep under Paris in the catacombs and is once again seeking Sido for his demonic uses.  This is a magical romance set against the horror of the French Revolution.  It is a dark but shining novel which could be described as the Scarlet Pimpernel for teens.

Gardner creates books with a unique mix of historical fiction and fantasy.  Her historical fiction is so vivid that one might just think that the fantasy interwoven into the story is part of that actual history.  Gardner’s language is just as powerful and deep as the novel itself.  Here is a passage on page 76 of the novel where she describes the darkness in the catacombs:

Yet here, where no sunlight had ever been, the darkness had an altogether unfamiliar texture.  No dawn would break through these shadowy corridors.  This darkness would never remember the light of a lantern’; it would be nothing more than a pinprick in the liquid heart of eternal night.  So powerful was this absence of light that for the first time, Yann experienced the sensation of being blind.

She weaves her story together out of the different strands of light and dark.  She takes the vilest of characters and brings them unflinchingly to life while also creating a hero for the ages.  The story is as riveting and fascinating as the first book thanks to her strong characterization and great action sequences.

Get this pair of books in the hands of teens who like either historical fiction or fantasy.  Both sets will enjoy it immensely.  Appropriate for ages 13-16. 

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.