Author: Sharon Cameron
Rating: 4 Stars
Basic plot: Sophia Bellamy and her brother Tom live in an anti-technological dystopian world. And to top it all, they’re also re-living the days of the French Revolution… complete with a Scarlet Pimpernel-type called “The Rook”. Sophia is to be married to a french dandy named René Hasard, as a way to save her family home. René’s cousin, LeBlanc, is intent on capturing the Rook… which leads him straight to Bellamy House.
1) The Scarlet Pimpernel. This is basically a reworking of that story. Need I say more???
2) I thought Cameron does a good job with her world-building in this one. We get glimpses of the past Paris and England, but her new dystopian world seems legit. I love how we’re back to 18th century fashion and horse-drawn carriages! (They all signed anti-technology pacts!)
3) René Hasard makes a likeable version of Sir Percy Blakeney while Sophia makes a good Marguerite St. Just (“cleverest woman in Europe”!). And Cameron mixes things up with some twists and also some role reversals… She does enough to pay homage to the original, while making her own story.
4) I love all the little Scarlet Pimpernel Easter Eggs that pop up here and there. Like St. Just, the fox… just to mention one.
5) LeBlanc is a worthy villain. He seems to be always one step ahead of the Rook. Which is infuriatingly good!
6) The bit at the end regarding Maman… No spoilers. I thought this was a nice touch. Especially rounding out René’s story.
7) There is a love-triangle in this book. I’m not usually crazy about love-triangles, however, this one works into the plot. I was glad that Sophia was NOT made into a simpering/waffling chit who just “can’t make up her mind. Oh dear, what’s she to do??” I hate when the girl can’t figure out which guys she likes. Sophia ain’t like that, thank goodness.
8) Speaking of the romance element of the book… I thought it was nicely done. There was some wonderful romantic tension which played out nicely. (No kissing too early in the book. That’s my rule!)
9) Love the cover. Especially that Eiffel Tower. I didn’t notice at first how the tower has been “decapitated” (thinking the clouds/mist was covering it.) It certainly captures the mood of the story world perfectly.
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) You know what drove me nuts? The last names of René Hasard and Spear Hammond. They both begin with “Ha” and end with “d”. Really?! I kept getting the two of them mixed up. This may be partly due to the fact that, with regards to Spear’s name, I kept thinking Spear was his last name (it’s not. It’s his first name.) Why? Why?! Why??!!!!!
2) And I felt there were a little too many minor characters at times. It was hard to keep everybody straight. Who’s who, now? I felt I almost needed a character list at front of the book. This wasn’t as bad as the Hasard/Hammond mix-up (because those two should never be taken for the other), but it did cause a little confusion at times.
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I really liked this book! I love retellings, especially when it’s well done; and this retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel is beautiful. (It also makes me want to re-read the original.)