Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric
|Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Terrifying creatures roam the streets, snatching people, cats and rats. When Talina (the most impudent girl in Venice) loses her parents, she is forced to live with her horrible guardian in his gloomy tower. But Talina is attracted to magic, and magic is attracted to her, with startling results. Michelle Lovric came to Bookbag to chat to us. She also told us a tale of two markets.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Nineteenth-century Venice can seem a sinister place, full of secrets, misty forgotten islands and magic, both good and 'baddened'. It does, however, have its brighter, warmer side, with cosy, comforting grannies and delicious recipes, and Talina loves it dearly. But then the mangy, rabid Ravageurs arrive, creatures part-way between wolves and hyenas, and claim the city as their ancestral home. Men, women and children are stolen away in the night, as are cats and rats, but the inhabitants refuse to believe the full horror of what is happening, preferring instead to blame a neighbouring town.
And then the night comes when Talina's parents disappear. Like many a storybook heroine before her Talina is forced to live with a cruel, neglectful old guardian, in a gloomy old tower where she is left pretty much to her own devices. Fortunately she is a lively, opinionated girl who refuses to accept such unpleasant treatment, and she never gives up her determined search for her beloved father and mother. She is courageous – almost to the point of foolhardiness at times – but also kindly, and while she is the scourge of her poor French teacher, Mademoiselle Chouette, her cat Drusilla and her classmate Ambrogio Gasperin, are her loyal and devoted friends.
Talina has one enviable talent: she is able to read two books at once. It almost leads to her downfall, however, because while cooking late one night she confuses the instructions contained in 'Magical Means on a Budget' and 'Substantial Cakes for the Working Classes', and turns herself into a cat. In her new state Talina escapes death by a whisker, and eventually teams up with a motley crew of friends and magicians in order to battle the Ravageurs, find her parents and save Venice.
Talina is a delightful main character. She is determined and outspoken, ready to publically criticise people who kill egrets for their feathers, and to argue with her teacher. She is not always easy to live with, as quick to condemn as to love, but her stubborn spirit and her willingness to try anything, no matter how dangerous or bizarre, to achieve her ends are exactly the qualities she will need to call upon as she finds herself in peril after peril. This contrasts strongly with the majority of the adults of Venice, who are portrayed as passive, even cowardly, in their refusal to see the truth right under their noses, or to believe their children, who are the only ones able to see the magic-ridden predators.
Venice itself is so well portrayed that it becomes a character in its own right. Its narrow streets, its murky canals and dark, secret towers are the setting for an astonishing world of witches, hags, mermaids and magicians. Tea towels become means of transport, ordinary household ingredients are combined into potions, and a small boy is allowed to stand up in court and argue for the preservation of the city. The book is an exciting, amusing and enchanting read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric at Amazon.com.
Michelle Lovric was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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