Friday, September 5, 2014

Faces of the Dead

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Therese Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead and who looks at Marie-Therese as if she can see all her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

Beth says 3 Stars...
Sometimes a girl just wants to read about the lush world of an Old-World monarchy, even as it breaks down during a revolution. This book did a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of the end of the French monarchy at the hands of revolutionaries. The details were delightful and really rounded out a full picture of the time, from describing the luxury of the palace to the squalor of the streets. I think that has to be the book's greatest strength; the ability to transport the reader back to the end of the 18th century. Unfortunately, the plot fell extremely short of the lovely world it was supposed to fill with action. I already knew the basics of how it was going to end from my brushes with European history, so I wasn't really on the edge of my seat. The most disappointing part of the novel was the how the supernatural element was handled. There's a way to delicately add a bit of the strange and paranormal, and then there's just severely underwhelming writing. I expected so much more and just ended up disappointed with the result. I wanted some excitement, or for there to be some actual influence on the plot from it. There would be almost no difference in the book if it had been straight up historical fiction, and it probably would have been better.

Marie-Therese was a decent character, but not entirely believable in my mind. Her reactions are too calm and collected for someone brought up to be a well-mannered princess. I can't imagine that someone in her position would take a fall with such grace and ease. The rest of the royal family served their purpose to give Marie-Therese motivation to do various risky things that somehow worked out fairly well for her. Henri was a fairly standard love interest. A poor boy who could show her how the rest of the French lived and offer her a new perspective on the world, all with sweetness and kindness. There was nothing wrong with him, but he lacked a spark to bring him off the page. Most of the characters fell a bit flat, unfortunately.

Overall, I'd say this is one to skip. Lovers of paranormal stories won't find enough to interest them and it strays a bit too far from traditional historical fiction to appeal to fans of that genre. This is a case where less probably would have been more.
ebook from Netgalley


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