The Red Necklace
First edition, 2007
|Cover artist||Lydia Corry
(portrait of boy) [clarification needed]
|Genre||Young-adult historical novel|
|Publisher||Orion Children's Books|
|4 October 2007|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|Pages||viii + 376 pp|
|LC Class||PZ7.G179335 Red 2008|
|Followed by||The Silver Blade|
The Red Necklace is a young adult historical novel by Sally Gardner, published by Orion in 2007. It is a story of the French Revolution, interwoven with gypsy magic. The audiobook is narrated by Tom Hiddleston.
The story is principally set in and near Paris between 1789 and 1792. Yannick "Yann" Margoza, an orphaned gypsy boy, who can throw his voice, read minds and predict the future, works in the Théâtre du Temple, with his guardians, Topolain, a magician, and Têtu, a dwarf who can move objects with his mind. The trio is invited by Count Kalliovski to perform at the chateau of the Marquis de Villeduval for him and his guests. Unbeknownst to them, Count Kalliovski is an old enemy from Têtu and Topolain's past. They run into him in the library of the chateau but it is too late for them to escape so they decided to leave the bullet catch out of the performance. During one trick with the pierrot, Yann has a disturbing premonition in which the guests are all carrying their bloodied severed heads. Têtu and Topolain hurriedly try to end the show but Kalliovski insists on performing the bullet catch. He tampers with the pistol, loading it with a real bullet and kills Topolain. While trying to escape from Kalliovski, Yann meets the Marquis' mistreated and unwanted daughter, Sido, and is instantly smitten by her. After escaping back to Paris with Sido's help via a secret passage in her chamber, Têtu warns Yann he is in grave danger and insists he travel to London. Yann is bitter about this but eventually agrees.
Têtu's friend, Monsieur Cordell, arranges for Yann to stay with Henry and Juliette Laxton in London, who happen to be Sido's maternal aunt and uncle. Têtu also tells Cordell that Kalliovski was a gypsy who became obsessed with Yann's mother, Anis, while working in a circus. Topolain and Têtu tried to protect her but Kalliovski tracked them down and killed her after she boldly rejected him. He couldn't let anyone know the truth about him which is why he murdered Topolain. While trying to get Yann to safety, Têtu is shot by Kalliovski's henchman, Milkeye, while Yann is taken to London by Cordell and Mr Tull.
Despite the Laxtons' kindness to him, he is unhappy and homesick. After attempting to run away, he rescues a poor but eccentric actor named Mr Trippen from being robbed by throwing his voice to distract the thugs. Mr. Laxton apologises to Yann and employs Trippen as his new tutor. As Yann grows older he successfully adapts to English society but seems to have lost his gift to throw his voice and read minds. He becomes keen to learn about Têtu's telekinetic abilities, known as the 'threads of light'. One day, he meets a family of gypsies: Talo Cooper, his wife Orlenda, and his grandfather, Tobias. After Orlenda reads his fortune, Tobias successfully teaches Yann how to see and control the threads of light and gives him a magic talisman. Yann also receives news from Cordell that Têtu is alive. At the same time, the body an old acquaintance of Kalliovski is found by the Thames. Cordell notices Kalliovski's necklace around the victim's neck indicating that he murdered her for not paying her debts to him. Fearful for their niece's safety, the Laxtons agree to let Yann return to France and bring Sido to London.
During Yann's absence, the political situation in France worsens with the impending threat of The French Revolution. Maître Tardieu, the Marquis' lawyer visits him one day warning him that he is bankrupt from wasting all his money, and delivers a letter from Kalliovski demanding him to repay his debts and asking for Sido's hand in marriage. The Marquis initially refuses until he is threatened with a cryptic warning: Remember your wife. Unwilling to suffer Kalliovksi's wrath, he reluctantly agrees. Sido is horrified about this arrangement but is powerless against both Kalliovski and the Marquis. During her father's fête one night, she overhears a heated conversion between the Marquis and his friend, Madame Perrien. Fearful for her life, she begs him to lend her money to repay her debts to Kalliovski. However, the Marquis refuses and ignores her warning that his own dealings with the Count will backfire. Perrien is indeed later murdered by Kalliovski, much to the Marquis' horror. He gradually descends further and further into madness causing him to further abuse his daughter. The chateau is soon destroyed by a mob prompting Sido and her father to escape through a secret tunnel with the help of their servants and are given refuge by The Marquis' friend, the Duchesse de Lamantes. Yann eventually returns to the theatre, now renamed the Théâtre de la Liberté and reunites with Têtu, Didier, the caretaker of the theatre, and Monsieur Aulard, the manager. Têtu is overjoyed to see him and that he too can see the threads of light and finally reveals the truth about Kalliovski.
Yann and Sido are briefly reunited and realises that he can read her mind again. He tries to persuade her to forget the Marquis and come back to England with him. Sido explains her situation including her engagement to Kalliovski, and that the Duchesse had instructed her and her father to find Mr. Tull who would smuggle them out of the country. Yann, however, remembers his encounter with Tull the night he was smuggled out of France and warns Sido not to trust him and let him take her instead. He and Têtu later meet with Maître Tardieu who informs them that the Marquis wrote instructing him to end Sido's betrothal but when he informed Kalliovski, he received no reply. He gives them a bag of jewels that belonged to Sido's mother, Isabelle Gautier, and Armand de Villeduval, the Marquis' half brother. Upon noticing seven familiar red garnets, Têtu realises that Isabelle and Armand were murdered by Kalliovski on the Marquis' behalf. Yann attempts to see Sido again the next day but is too late as she and the Marquis have already been taken to prison by Tull who was working for Kalliovski.
During the night, Kalliovski visits an ill and exhausted Sido in prison and blackmails her into marrying him. He then taunts her and threatens her with rape before she passes out. Kalliovski arranges to have her moved to her own cell and nursed back to health. Meanwhile, Yann and Maître Tardieu meet with her in prison and she again refuses to leave her father behind. However, after she leaves, Maître Tardieu reveals that Isabelle and Armand were lovers. Therefore, Sido is not the daughter of the Marquis, but of Isabelle and Armand; the pair had been attempting to elope to London with a three-year-old Sido at the time of their murder. Yann, Têtu and Didier plan to use the information about Sido's parentage to change her mind.
They invite Kalliovski to a performance with a pierrot to distract him while Yann and Didier attempt to break into his apartment. During the performance, Têtu uses the threads of light to animate Kalliovski's automaton and the pierrot. The ghost of Anis later appears warning him that he is still in danger. Yann manages to drug Milkeye and sneaks into Kalliovski's apartment to find the love letters from Sido's parents. He discovers a room full of automatons made from Kalliovski's murdered victims known as 'The Sisters Macabre' which he uses to hide all his secrets. He also discovers that Kalliovski can also work the threads of darkness. Milkeye suddenly wakes up and the two engage in a fight ending with Yann being shot in the shoulder. Although weak, he uses his new magic abilities to make The Sisters Macabre talk. One of them opens a draw in their chest revealing the letters from Sido's parents and Kalliovski's 'Book of Tears' containing all the names of those who had borrowed money from him. He passes out but is rescued by Didier and taken back to the theatre where Têtu treats his wound.
Kalliovski soon realises that Yann is Anis' son and that he is his father. Meanwhile, fed up with all the abuse she has had to put up with for years, Sido finally decided that the Marquis isn't worth trying to help and that should Yann come for her, she will go with him. She witnesses the gory "execution" of the duchesse and is put on trial before the people the next day and is found innocent. Amid all the chaos, Kalliovski abducts her off the street and further taunts her that even if she had come willingly he still wouldn't have had the Marquis released. Didier manages to stop the carriage by drawing a mob to it allowing him and Yann to rescue Sido. Yann confesses that although he loves her, Sido's family are waiting for her as he is staying behind to help more aristocrats escape from France. Sido doesn't want to be separated from Yann again but eventually agrees and he gives her his talisman. Kalliovski is revealed to have survived the mob. Sickened and enraged that he was defeated by a son he never wanted, he vows vengeance.
- Yannick "Yann" Margoza – A young gypsy boy with telepathic powers. An orphan, he is raised on the road amongst travelling entertainers, but is forced to flee to England and be raised by Sido's aunt and uncle after his band of roadsmen are murdered by Kalliovski. Due to his grief, he loses his powers, but later regains them when he returns to France, only to find that he cannot read any other mind except that of Sido, the girl he loves. Like Têtu and Topolain, he has telekinetic powers known as the 'threads of light.' He learns to improve his powers with the help of a gypsy family, the Coopers. It is later revealed that he is Kalliovski's son, although he and Têtu firmly believe he is the spirit child of Anis and her former husband who died before Yann was born. He is fourteen at the beginning and seventeen at the end of the book.
- Sidonie "Sido" de Villeduval – The neglected, unloved only daughter of the pompous, idiot Marquis de Villeduval. She is twelve years old at the start of the book and fifteen at the conclusion making her two years younger than Yann. Although maybe too timid and kind for her own good, she is a brave, resourceful girl who simply wants to be loved. She has a limp in her left leg due to an accident as a child that killed her parents. She is described as being quite beautiful like a china doll with porcelain skin, black hair and "bewitching blue eyes" earning her the unwanted attention of Kalliovski who lusts for her, the way he lusted after her mother. She helps Yann and Têtu escape from Kalliovski early in the novel and the two fall in love. Later it is revealed that her true parents are Isabelle Gautier and Armand de Villeduval, the Marquis' half brother.
- Têtu - A gypsy dwarf, who raised Yann. He and Topolain know the truth about Kalliovski, and was a very close friend of Yannick's mother, Anis. He loves Yann dearly as if he were his own. He too can work the threads of light which he also uses to aid in Sido's rescue.
- Count Kallivoski – Later "Citizen Kalliovski", an evil, murderous nobleman and the main antagonist of the novel. He frequently distributes vast loans to financially troubled aristocrats of France, asking them for their most incriminating secrets in return, and using these to blackmail his debtors into obeying him. If their debts aren't paid or they refuse to obey him, he murders them. He constantly makes advances on young Sido and blackmails the Marquis into agreeing to their betrothal. He kidnaps her near the end of the book but she is rescued by Yann. It is revealed that years ago, he lusted after both Yann's mother, Anis, and Sido's mother, Isabelle, but killed them both after they rejected him. Kalliovski's designs on Sido partially serve as revenge on her mother. Giving that Sido was the only survivor of the assassination and that Kalliovski prevented the Laxtons from adopting her, it is implied that he already had plans for her even from a young age. He constantly keeps his loyal wolfhound, Balthazar, by his side.
- The Marquis de Villeduval – Sido's callous, stupid, foppish father who has bankrupted himself due to his incessant squandering of the family fortune, and owes an immense sum to Count Kalliovski, who threatens to reveal the Marquis' darkest secrets to the world unless the Marquis relinquishes Sido to him. The Marquis, caring nothing for Sido, wants to be rid of her, but also wishes to claim the inheritance left to her by her late grandfather in order to clear his debts. He is later driven to insanity after a mob of revolutionaries burn down his chateau and meets his end shortly after being arrested. Unbeknownst to Sido, The Marquis is really her uncle and responsible for the accident that injured her and killed her parents when she was a child.
- Henry and Juliette Laxton – Sido's maternal aunt and uncle who take Yann in after he arrives in London. The couple is unable to have children and want more than anything in the world to meet their niece. Like the majority of the characters, they dislike the Marquis and Kalliovski for causing Isabelle so much misery when she was alive and preventing them from adopting Sido after her death. They are eventually united with her at the end of the book. Juliette is described as bearing a striking resemblance to her niece.
- Jacques Topolain – A magician who helped raised Yannick. Although vain and cowardly at times, he is kind and loyal. He is murdered by Kalliovski after he lets it slip that he recognises him.
- Maître Tardieu - The mole-like lawyer and financial advisor to the de Villeduval family for over thirty years. Although devoted to the late elder Marquis and his late younger son, Armand, he despises the current Marquis for his cruelty and extravagance. He constantly warns the Marquis that he is in financial ruin, but the Marquis refuses to take heed. Maître Tardieu, however, holds Sido in high esteem and recognises her as a "true de Villeduval", due to her bravery and intelligence. He reveals in-depth knowledge of the de Villeduval family to the protagonists, namely that Armand de Villeduval and Isabelle Gautier were lovers, and assists Yann in rescuing Sido.
- Didier – The caretaker of the Théâtre du Temple (later the Théâtre de la Liberté) who helps Têtu and Yann save Sido.
- Monsieur Aulard – The manager of the Théâtre du Temple who also aids in Sido's rescue.
- The Coopers – Tobias, his grandson, Talo, and his wife Orlenda: A family of gypsies whom Yann makes a connection with and teach him how to use his magic.
- Mr. Trippen – A poor but eccentric and friendly actor whom Yann rescues from a robbery. He develops a friendship with the boy and is later employed as his tutor.
- Milkeye – Kalliovski's top henchman
- Armand de Villeduval and Isabelle Gautier - (both deceased) Armand was the Marquis de Villeduval's younger half-brother, their father's favourite child and was widely renowned for being kind-hearted, generous, intelligent and brave, unlike the selfish and malicious Marquis. Isabelle was wed to the Marquis in an arranged marriage; she and Armand however became lovers and Sido is their child. Isabelle was pursued by Kalliovski, but she rejected him and thus endangered her life. The Marquis, upon discovering their affair, schemed with Kalliovski to have them both murdered.
- The Elder Marquis de Villeduval - The deceased father of the current Marquis and the late Armand de Villeduval. The late Marquis was, unlike his eldest son, a kind-hearted man, and favoured the similarly compassionate Armand over his cruel and wasteful elder son. The Elder Marquis died broken-hearted after Armand was killed. The Elder Marquis knew that Armand and Isabelle Gautier were lovers, and bequeathed an enormous fortune to Sido for her to inherit upon her wedding day. His first wife, according to Maître Tardieu, died in an asylum after going insane; the current Marquis de Villeduval inherited his madness from her.
The title refers to the murder signature of Count Kalliovski, who puts round the necks of all his murder victims a necklace of red garnets strung on a thin red ribbon. The effect of the necklace is to make it look as if the wearer's throat has been cut.
- "The red necklace: a story of the French Revolution" (US edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2014-07-02.
- "The Silver Blade" (US edition). LCC record. Retrieved 2014-07-02.