Richard Drake is an adventurer, dark, bold, even if a bit of a brute. During an high society ball, he meets the charming but strong-willed Catherine L...moreRichard Drake is an adventurer, dark, bold, even if a bit of a brute. During an high society ball, he meets the charming but strong-willed Catherine Lecombe. The young woman is not at all attracted by the arrogant man who is always seeking her attentions. In the other hand, the mysterious Lord Faureston seems to have quite a powerful effect on her... Driven by jealousy, Drake is determined to know more about the man and how he claimed fortune and title after some tragic deaths. Especially when he senses that Catherine might be in danger...
This is the first volume of a story for all paranormal fans who always enjoy a new vampire tale. Catherine Lecombe is the typical romantic young woman who is looking for the perfect passionate man. Her distaste for Richard Drake is visible for the instant they meet. She cannot stand the man or even hear about his incredible stories set in exotic lands. For her, he is just another rich man who explores the weaker and who never misses an occasion to brag.
Of course, we also feel there's more about her excessive feelings than scorn. And Drake seems to have the same opinion since he uses all his charm to convince her that he is much more interesting than she seems to think. But then, the blond and elegant Lord Faureston enters the game for Miss Lecombe attentions.
There's no secret about Faureston's nature. Quite quickly we know what he is, but his past or even his true relationship with another attractive woman remains more or less clouded. He is undoubtedly an intriguing character, even if he is cruel and ruthless.
I really enjoyed the drawings and the color palette used in this volume. They have many interesting details and the authors manage to create a very misty and sometimes creepy scenes, especially those with Lord Faureston. Nonetheless, I have some difficulties with the leading man, Robert Drake (character inspired by the 19th century explorer Richard Francis Burton). He immediately made me think of Gengis Khan with those eyebrows and heavy mustache. A big no-no for me.
D - Lord Faureston was a nice read but not as exciting as I wished it would be. (less)
Paris, France. Claudette Laurent, the young daughter of a renowned dollmaker, and her best friend, Jean-Philippe, join the French people in welcoming...moreParis, France. Claudette Laurent, the young daughter of a renowned dollmaker, and her best friend, Jean-Philippe, join the French people in welcoming their new princess, Marie Antoinette of Austria. They are determined to see her or die trying if need be. Treated with kindness by this lovely and gentle princess, Claudette never really forgets this day.
Years later, the young girl loses all she has in a fire that ravages her neighborhood. Her beloved parents, the doll shop, her life, everything suddenly disappears. Even her sweetheart, Jean-Philippe is nowhere to be found. Desperate and alone, she decides to embark on a new adventure, London, leaving her country and everything she knows behind. On the boat that takes her to her new home, she meets Beatrice and her daughter, Marguerite.
With the help of a local priest, she finds work as a maid in an English household with her new friends. They work hard but are constantly the target of the other servants who look at them with suspicion. During a dinner at her mistress’ house, she meets William Greycliffe and we immediately feel something will happen between these two.
Through many trials and hard work, Claudette builds a life for herself with the help of Beatrice and finally achieves her dream, to become a renowned dollmaker, just like her father. Her fame and beautiful work arise the interest of many high placed people, among them the French queen, Marie-Antoinette, who asks her for a special doll. But the French Revolution is slowly approaching…
From the first moment I opened this book, I simply couldn’t let it go. Even making a pause over dinner was almost a sacrifice. The vivid descriptions of the dollmaking world grabbed my attention from the very first instant. The scenes at the London shop were entrancing. I could almost smell the wax and imagine the workroom as if I was there. I knew next to nothing about this art and since then I’ve been searching all over the internet to find as much as I can about the subject.
Claudette is a very realistic character who knows her strengths and her faults. Her father was a famous artist and she tried to learn as much as she could from him. Talented and hardworking, she was not a young miss who spent her days lazily. Her future and success lies in dollmaking and her goal is clear, open her own store and continue her father’s work. A woman artist in the 18th century who doesn’t need a man to run her business and never backs down to achieve her dreams is certainly someone I would admire. It’s quite refreshing to read a story about a self-made woman.
William Greycliffe is quite the mysterious man all along the story. Even when we find out more about his life, a part of him always remains in the shadows. His attitude towards Claudette’s profession is immediately remarkable. A man who admires his wife’s independence and work is after my own heart.
I also enjoyed how the author describes the unstable post-revolutionary Paris. The cruelty of those times was gut wrenching reaching his peak with the execution of some historical figures like the attrocious murder of the Princess of Lamballe.
The Queen’s Dollmaker is one of the most original books I read in 2009 and I have only one thing to say to Christine Trent: I crave for more! After reading the author’s post Why I Love Unusual Historical Professions, I truly hope she will continue to share with us these unexplored worlds. Her next novel The Wax Apprentice is schedule to 2011 and I’m anxiously waiting for the release.
Until more or less 10 years ago, I wasn't a comics fan. One day at my local library I decided to pick up some less known titles during one of those “I...moreUntil more or less 10 years ago, I wasn't a comics fan. One day at my local library I decided to pick up some less known titles during one of those “I have to try new things” kind of phase. The book was called Sasmira, a mysterious time travel who caught me right away under its spell.
The story starts in modern Paris. While walking in the street, Stan, a known musician, hears someone calling his name. He sees then a very old woman who gives him an strange ancient ring and asks him to return to her. Moments later she dies in his arms. Trying to know her identity, he finds in her pocket an old photograph dating from the beginning of the 20th century. To his astonishment, he feels powerfully attracted to one of the women portrayed. His curiosity awaken, he tries to find out more about the house he sees in the picture and asks for the help of his girlfriend, Bertille. With her help, Stan finally finds the location of the house and sneaks out trying to get there alone. Furious with him, Bertille immediately follows. Arriving to the house, they find a secret cave and suddenly they feel irresistibly drawn to each other and have sex. When they awake, they are suddenly in another era...
This is, until today, one of my favorite historical comics. Not only the drawings are beautiful, but the story is compelling mixing mystery, adventure, history and even romance very well. The characters are endearing, especially the young woman, Bertille. She is sharp, intelligent and very outspoken. In the other hand we have the quiet and secretive Stanislas. We feel they have a recent relationship and when Stan disappears for weeks without any explanation, disturbed by his encounter with the old woman, Bertille immediately imagined he was having an affair. She is exasperated by his behavior but her attraction for him is too strong. Even if she helps Stan in any way she can, she never forgets to tell him what she thinks of him, now and then, in a very humorous way.
I have to talk about the beautiful drawings, the precision and detail of the costumes and surroundings, especially at the mansion. It's really a wonderful work! I confess that it was one of the reasons why I was attracted to the book in the first place and I was happy to see the story matched the drawings perfectly. The underwear, the jewels are perfectly captured. The among of research done is obvious in each single page.
This first volume called: “The Calling”, shows us the beginning of an unpredictable story that I really cannot wait to read. Until today only the first book was publish but the second is announced to be release very soon. I've been waiting for the sequel for more than 10 years, so I can only say that I'm really excited!(less)
1875, England. Valeria Brinton, a young and beautiful woman, just married the charming Eustace Woodville. It was love at first sight. The spouses are...more1875, England. Valeria Brinton, a young and beautiful woman, just married the charming Eustace Woodville. It was love at first sight. The spouses are very attached to each other and everything seems perfect about this newlywed couple. Suddenly, the young woman discovers some deep hidden secrets who become a constant reminder how little she knows her husband.
Their marriage was not approved by her husband’s family who refused to attend to their wedding and even Valeria’s uncles were not happy about this situation.
During the first days of their honeymoon, she accidentally meets her mother-in-law and finds out her husband uses a false name. Why is he hiding his true identity?! Troubled by so many mysteries, the young woman decides to take the matters on her own hands and find out the truth. But everything is much more complex than she ever imagined…
This is the 1st volume of the French historical comic series, Mysteries: Seule contre la loi (The Law and The Lady) freely adapted from Wilkie Collins‘ book with the same name. The author even shows up during the story as an old friend of the heroine.
When I picked it up at the library, I just wanted a comic who would be quick to read and interesting enough to hold my attention. I previously read The Woman in White and Moonstone by Collins and really enjoyed both. This was another opportunity to get to know the author a little better and I’ll definately read The Law and The Lady in a near future.
If completely in love for Eustace, Valeria knows she cannot rest until she finds out the reasons of so many mysteries. She’s brave and independent and doesn’t scare off easily. Her husband, in the other hand, never really tries to explain the reasons of his lies. He just abandons his wife to her fate thinking he is doing a huge sacrifice leaving her alone. I do understand Eustace has reasons to think no one will believe him but he gives up easily, especially with someone he loves so much (or he says so).
The drawing style can be sometimes a bit too schematic concerning the characters’ faces but Wagner manages very well to show all the emotions with every stroke. A special note about the Victorian clothes, hairdos or even the architecture details which were a real pleasure to admire.
I noticed my library had the 2nd volume so I’ll bring it home as soon as possible. Can’t wait to see what happens next! (less)
Olivia & Jai is one of those books with a slight old fashioned feeling that left a wonderful impression the first time I read it a couple years ag...moreOlivia & Jai is one of those books with a slight old fashioned feeling that left a wonderful impression the first time I read it a couple years ago. I wanted to reread it and see if the magic still worked.
We first meet Olivia O’Rourke, a 23 years old American with an unusual education and lots of character, during her stay in India where she spends a year with her maternal aunt, Lady Bridget Templewood, and her family. The young woman is completely in love for this new land and its culture. Every opportunity she gets, to great despair of her snobbish aunt, she’s out exploring Calcutta and doing the best she can to get to meet the locals.
One evening, during a ball, she meets a mysterious man, Jai Raventhorne. They are both curious about each other, but when Olivia mentions his name to her family, they are all shocked and immediately warn her to keep her distances from him. Clearly there’s something going on between Raventhorne and the Templewoods and nobody seems interested to talk about it or explain the reasons of the quarrel to the young American. This situation only provokes Olivia’s curiosity about Jai…
Not long after, Olivia and Jai start to meet in secret, both unable to stop the growing attraction between them. If the young woman accepts her feelings more easily, Jai tries to keep his distances at first and warns her often that despite his love, he cannot give her what she wants. Olivia is in love and she never imagined Jai’s revenge towards her family or the unbearable pain caused by his treason…
Olivia is a charming mix of wisdom and innocence. Raised by her free thinking father in the States, she was always encouraged to give her opinion and be an independent woman. Her English aunt is completely appealed by this upbringing! She is decided to transform the young woman into a lady and find her an English husband.
If I couldn’t sometimes suspend my disbelief when I read about Olivia leaving the house all alone and spend hours in the local markets or riding, I did enjoy her curiosity about the Indian culture and the fact that she tried to break free from the quite strict British society rules and seek for something else.
Her love for Jai might seem sometimes a bit naïve and suddenly excessive, but it’s her first love and she was completely swept away by the dark and mysterious young man. His happiness is her happiness. She gave herself completely to Jai without any constraints.
Jai is Eurasian and his illegitimacy is often the center of all gossip among the local British society. He is arrogant, conceited, obnoxious and sometimes, a real pain. He is also a self made man. Nobody knows who his parents were, but he made his way into the world and built an empire. He does some terrible things, but here remains the talent of Rebecca Ryman, even during the worst moments I could never really hate Jai. He never became an unsympathetic character and I would imagine it was a hard task for the author to keep him going as a real person with its faults and qualities.
There are some small aspects that kept me from giving this book 5 stars. The language was a little too modernized sometimes, but it won’t spoil any enjoyment. This is a story of love and revenge with some twists and turns but everything works almost perfectly for me. The character development, especially Olivia who changes so much all along the story, is quite remarkable. Also the descriptions of 19th century India are enthralling. I remember especially Olivia’s visit to the market and it was so vivid I could almost taste the pastry she was eating.
Rebecca Ryman is the pen name of an Indian writer, Asha Bhanjdeo, who only wrote three books under this name: Olivia & Jai, The Veil of Illusions (the sequel of Olivia & Jai) and Shalimar. Unfortunately, she died in 2003.