Back in June, you may remember, I read and reviewed the first book in Michelle Lovric's whimsical and wholly engrossing series, The Undrowned Child. Well I'm sure you can imagine my absolute delight when part two, The Mourning Emporium was sent to me last Wednesday by the wonderful Ms Douglas at Orion books.
Just as pretty as the first book, with stunning cover art, gorgeous end pages, and beautiful scrolled headings at the start of each chapter, The Mourning Emporium and the The Undrowned Child are the two prettiest books I own, but their contents are just as enchanting!
Part two is set in Venice and London two years after the first book, between Christmas Day and mid-February. It follows Teodora (The Undrowned Child) and Renzo (The Studious Son) on their latest harrowing adventures as Venice is very nearly destroyed by flooding and Ice on Christmas Day, and quickly find themselves aboard the Scilla, a floating boys Orphanage under the "care" of a beautiful yet deadly woman, Miss Uish. Their nemesis Bajamonte Tiepolo is back, planning the destruction of London with a whole host of new evil cohorts, and it's up to the children to come to the cities rescue.
Without reading the stories it's hard to convey just how whimsical and wonderful they are. Historically imbued with so many interesting true tidbits, filled with unique and charming characters, and told in the most enjoyably unusual language, these books are like nothing I've ever read before. They are at once the quintessential children's adventure story while being told in such an intelligent way that I can easily see them becoming great classics.
The Mourning Emporium has a great new cast. While holding on to the beloved Venetian Mermaids, Ms Lovric has also added London's own, less rough and tumble, mermaids, as well as a fantastic gang of street children cared for by an english bulldog by the name of Turtledove, not to mention the wonderful cat of the Scilla Sofonisba and her entourage of orphaned Venetian boys. But not to worry! She hasn't neglected to add a new host of evil doers as well. Ms Uish, the Pretender to the British throne, sheep obsessed convicts from Australia and some vampire squids make for some deliciously awful villains for our children to come up against.
Told in such a way to be engrossing for both children and adults alike these books are so packed full of intriguingly true history and wonderful vocabulary I'm guessing virtually every kind of reader also comes away having learned something too. Though you pick it up in such an enjoyable way it hardly seems like you could have learned something, isn't learning supposed to be endlessly boring??
Finally both books are supplemented by the most amazing websites, filled with pictures, links to youtube videos and packed full of information about Ms. Lovric as well as the actual history she has written about. And not a spoiler to be found! So read away! The Undrowned Child site, and The Mourning Emporium site will keep the story going hours after you've regretfully turned the last page to book two, and alas will have to hold us all until the as yet unnamed book three comes out. Already I can hardly wait!
The Mourning Emporium releases today, and The Undrowned Child is now in paperback (there were at least a half dozen copies at my small Chapter last time I was up there), so don't waste any time jumping into these books because in the very near future Michelle Lovric herself will be joining us to answer some of my burning questions! And you don't want to miss out on all the greatness one way or another, trust me!
The Mourning Emporium, By Michelle Lovric
Published by Orion Children's Books, October 28th 2010