International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Young Fiction
Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
Publisher: Orion Childrens Books (2009)
Nina Aumaitre review
France 1793, blood is running in rivulets down the streets as heads
fall severed from bodies like petals of sickle roses. The reign
of terror has Paris in its chokehold gripe and the city is panting,
in frenzy for justice. So under the slicing cry of the guillotine,
mastered by corrupt citizen Robespierre and his sans-culottes
a young man finally draws the line. He goes by the name of Yann
Margoza and through his veins chimes the mystical blood of gypsies.
Actor by day, hero
by night, he snatches innocents from under the new cut throat regime.
But as if it wasnt hard enough it seems that the devil himself
has come to pull on the threads of life and death, and under the city
lays more mischief, which will also come into play, leading this story
far beyond the French revolution as we know it. This is Sally Gardeners
new book The Silver Blade.
Before going any further I feel I should tell you this, it is not a
story recreating the revolution, so dont get scared off by thinking
that it will suddenly turn into one of your history school books (which
you so long to escape from). Sally Gardner may have picked this historical
field for her story to play out on, but she only uses the terrain as
a base. Before you know it you will find yourself plunged into the dark
world of catacombs and moving corpses. And as the story progresses on
antagonist characters rears up, and it will soon be clear to you that
the thirst for blood hides behind many faces. Some scared and torn,
others misleadingly angelic, and would it be giving too much away to
add: some all but human?
The story is pushed forward by butter knife action more than actual
sword play, but action none the less. Action, Adventure and the final
touch romance, because what would a hero do if he had no maiden to keep
his heart safe during battle? By that I mean that you will not be spared
the torment of a forbidden love and all its usual complications. But
whilst there might be some wishy-washy romance, death will takes to
the dance floor more often.
As for language lets not forget that all this is set in France!
So to keep the accent on the Es a few expressions have made their
way into the dialogue mort bleu!! and rosbif.
So if you like to keep the full flavour of a text I would suggest you
look them up, as there are no helpful translations at the bottom of
the page. But fear not, before you feel too home sick, a regular ship
will be sailing to England, or more exactly to London, where the writer
opens our eyes to the Englishs part in the French revolution.
For those of you that like taking in imagery Sally Gardner enchants
some of her scenes with meaningful metaphors and her language stays
constant and eloquent all the way through. Heres a taste of the
This darkness would never remember the light of a lantern; it
would be nothing more than a pinprick in the liquid heart of eternal
Saying this, I would recommend this book to a pre-teen audience (10+).
Because of its content and the lay out, both fashioned to make the book
an easy read. Every chapter leads you in with a paragraph of bold blue
font and a curly artistic header. Though I would not advise anyone who
is passionate about French history, in particular the revolution to
read this book. As I have said above the backdrop of the revolution
is only a convenient setting in which humanity loses its footing.
© Nina Aumaitre
Nina is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.