(This review appeared in Historical Novels Review, February 2011, p.59)
In this standalone sequel to The Undrowned Child Michelle Lovric has provided another rip-roaring tale of amazing ingenuity and inventiveness. The date is December 1900 and the villainous real-life Venetian traitor, Bajamonte Tiepolo, has moved his sights from Venice to London, where Queen Victoria is on her deathbed. With Venice in the fatal grip of an icy lagoon of bad magic, the Venetian heroes, Teo(dora) and Renzo, set sail in the Scilla for London where they are ably abetted by a wonderful cast of mermaids, orphans, Venetian pumpkin-sellers aka the Incogniti, a circus master, ghosts and, best of all, a talking English bulldog, Turtledove. Lovric’s imaginative characterisation knows no bounds and her dialogue sparkles with wit. For an adult reader, who unashamedly loved every word of it, the book gives a glimpse of the weird and wonderful Victorian world – the mourning emporium of the title was a reality, and a host of other details – including the quack medicines and contraptions used by the hypochondriac English mermaids – are based on historical fact; for younger readers, it offers a treasure trove of delight, with an action-packed plot spiced by historical events and magic.
(Visit Michelle Lovric’s website for more information about her books, Venice, her London cat and the ones in Venice, and much more!)