Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Sovay: "She fought for her life. She robbed for love."

This'd be a book review. Well, by book review, I actually mean discussing and 'opinionising' (I love making up words) it, rather than actually picking it apart and analysing every last detail.

As you can see, it's a book. And it's written by Celia Rees - if the name rings a bell, it's probably because you'd have been recommended her major success story, Witch Child by your teachers at school. And quite right too. Well, unless you're a man's man, in which case, don't bother. You won't appreciate it. No guns you see.

Anyway. Sovay. I bought it in Bournemouth, as something to read after my exams whilst I hung around Sam's house as he revised for his, or went to work. I confess it took me a while to get into it - I read about 30 pages and then switched over to his comic book collection. Perhaps it's because my brain needed short sentences and pretty pictures, or perhaps it was because the start is quite cliché in its Highwayman-is-a-woman storyline. But there is nothing wrong with cliché. Cliché can sell many many books, and give plenty of authors an income. I applaud cliché, so long as it's written well. And written well this book is - Celia Rees has a knack for keeping her writing both sophisticated and accessible to the younger (i.e. teenager) audience, giving its appeal a nice wide 12 to whatever-age-a-person-goes-off-fiction.

Sovay, the main character, is a 18th century daughter of an aristocrat, who displays less than aristocratic tendencies, such as enjoying riding around in her brother's clothes and testing the love of her fiancé (who failed the test). However instead of just sticking to terrorising the family of this epitome of rakishness, she has to keep up with highway robbery to prevent her family from being arrested for supposed treason - her family are moderate ''revolutionaries''. In that they support freedom and reform, but not necessarily as far as the French are doing at the moment (French Revolution of the 1700s).

After the move to London to find and warn her father and brother, Sovay's fortunes take a turn as she becomes embroiled in uncovering a mass conspiracy, almost in a Sherlock Holmes film-esque way. As I read through, getting more and more gripped on my 6 hour train journey, I could practically see all the characters come to life. Granted, the villain had a resemblance to Mark Strong, mixed with the owner of the asylum in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, but none the less he was sufficiently menacing to keep the plot fluid.

The plot in general is of course not believable, in comparison to her other books (I'm ignoring Sorceress) but it's enjoyable all the same. It's got adventure, intrigue, cult ritual, danger, a tiny bit of romance, a plausible international period drama setting and even a bit of kissy-slut happenings! (See what I've done with the colours?)
She really gets about that Sovay. Must be deluded into thinking that just because she dresses as a man once in a while, society has liberated her of her corset where physical contact with other people is concerned.

The writing style is good. I like Celia Rees for her style. I was a bit skeptical that she could write anything that wasn't in diary-form, after Sorceress (I don't know why, I just couldn't get into that as I could Witch Child and Pirates! ) but after Pirates! I knew she was good at writing the sort of frivolous period adventure story I enjoy one quiet week or long-night with no obligations the next morning.

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