The Red Necklace takes place in the chaotic fires of the French Revolution, following the romance of young Yann, a Gypsy mind reader and voice thrower, and Sido, the daughter of a French noblemen.
I loved this book -it's beautifully written and filled with so much fascinating historical detail but still manages to come across as a great work of fiction rather than a history lesson. Yann is a really interesting character to read about, and I enjoyed the inclusion of a small mystical element surrounding Yann's Gypsy connections. I particularly enjoyed Yann's time in London in the the middle of the story, which allowed for some variety in the novel's setting.
Sadly, Sido, the "girl" of The Red Necklace, was the weakest link for me. She had hardly any personality and was particularly boring. She just allowed all of the activities of the Revolution happen around her, and would have accepted her unwanted marriage to another nobleman because that was the life she was supposed to lead. While Sido did become more interesting near the end of the novel, it was difficult for me to really root for her.
Sally Gardner also offers a wonderful, crafted writing hand for the YA historical fiction genre. Her voice is clean and a joy to read, as well as closely woven with action, intrigue, mystery and suspense. Even though I was only vaguely interested in The Red Necklace when I picked it up, I ended up reading the novel in less than a day. This wonderful historical romance manages to be romantic and adventurous at the same time without feeling sappy.
I'm going to go out and pick up Gardner's other YA novels, particularly the sequel to The Red Necklace, The Silver Blade, as soon as I can!