I rather like audiobooks now.
I found this novel through Wikipedia, picking it up after discovering that the audiobook is read by my favorite actor, Tom Hiddleston.
I downloaded the audiobook, 6.6 hours of his beautiful voice, and finished it in 2 days.
I have bought several audiobooks and left them all unfinished. I credit my inability to finish them to the fact that most of the readers have boring voices and their method of distinguishing each character is to merely lower or heighten the pitch of their voices throughout the dialogue.
However, not surprisingly, Tom Hiddleston broke that standard.
I could hardly tell one person was reading the book, the voices were so different. He used a score of accents, ranging from his native English accent to Scottish, Irish, French, even vaguely Russian and more.
Aside from my obvious satisfaction with his reading, the book is quite gripping.
The title is a reference to the guillotine, the “bloody altarpiece” of the French Revolution, and to the necklace of red garnets found on murder victims throughout the book, the gems described as looking “drop of congealed blood.”
It tells the story of a Parisian Romani boy named Yann Margoza, a magician’s assistant and a young French aristocrat, Sidonie de Villeduval, at the time of the Revolution.
“Sido” is a beautiful, kind girl with a limp, and she is despised by her father, the Marquis de Villeduval. The Marquis is obsessed with possessions and his estate, spending lavishly even though he is bankrupt. He is indebted to the illusive and fabulously wealthy Count Kallivoski.
Following a fateful final performance, Yann is forced to flee to London. He grows up, becoming a gentleman with a bright future.
Kallivoski has taken an unhealthy interest in Sido and blackmails the Marquis into consenting to a marriage between the two. Yann embarks on a journey to save her from the Revolution and the Count alike.
It is an extremely well-written book.
Gardner writes exceedingly clever phrases to describe the setting and characters, using “varicose veins” to describe hidden passageways and citing that one man has an”entirely too generous helping of teeth.”
Check out this book or order it on amazon here!