Faces of the Dead

 
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Faces of the Dead
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
August 26, 2014
ISBN
978-0545425315
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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-Thérèse 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-Thérèse as if she can see all of 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.

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Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0  (1)
Characters 
 
3.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
3.0  (1)
(Updated: September 17, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0

History Sprinkled with Magic

I was initially interested in this book, since it centers entirely around the French Revolution and features the embellished story of the young princess Marie-Therese. This book does quite the job of inserting historical facts here and there in a way that I am sure would help any student learning about the French Revolution become more engaged and therefore retain some interesting and important details about one of the most significant events in European history. Weyn does a satisfactory job with her changes, and explains the historical facts she did change in an informative author's note that sheds more light on her writing process.

Unfortunately, I found the writing style to be jumbled and the main character's thoughts, decisions, and actions abrupt and awkward. She transitioned from living a life of luxury to a life of abject poverty with virtually no difficulty whatsoever, and there is quite the case of "insta-love" displayed in this book. The romance has hardly any depth, and she (Marie-Therese) makes grandiose statements like, "With Henri there's only the two of us and we live on our own island of love where we're safe and nothing else matters." Part of my difficulty could be that I just read a book about the exact same time period and about some of the exact same historical characters recently that especially highlighted Madame Tussaud (Mme. Grusholtz in Faces of the Dead--a wax figure artist who was forced to do quite gruesome work during the revolution) that was written much more suited to my kind of style. The addition about halfway through the book of fantasy/magical elements threw me off as well.

One thing that I appreciated from this book, however, was Weyn's ability to help us see that, in spite of the terrible neglect of the royalty, the acts of the Citizens of France were equally atrocious, disgusting, and vile as they took their vengeance on the King and his family. The princess has a deep and enduring love for her family and friends and opens the window into what it must have been like to be completely shocked by the actions of the people in the revolution; to have no clue about the world outside the palace walls, only to be thrown violently into a painful and horrific reality that truly would have been an incredibly difficult thing to survive with one's sanity in tact. Also, the mystery of what really happened to Marie-Therese is both intriguing and fun to muse about as one goes through this story.

Overall, if you are a fan of historical fiction, France, the French Revolution, you may enjoy this book, and I am sure that most Suzanne Weyn fans will enjoy reading another one of her works.

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