Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.
But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.
Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger.
Yep, another book about my most-loathed city in the world. Paris. But this had such a good premise. In fact, it strongly reminded me of Maureen Johnson's Shades of London trilogy, which I have to admit was a huge factor in my decision to buy it. Sadly, it lacks the spark, the intrigue and the drama of Johnson's trilogy, and was just a bit of a disappointment overall. And that has nothing to do with the setting, so I'll try not to bitch about Paris too much.
Colette is a whiny, self-absorbed brat who is hiding from her so-called friends the fact that her parents have split up and she's now broke. There was not one thing I liked about Colette, which made this a difficult read, especially considering I was expecting it to be light and enjoyable once I'd started reading it. Fluffy, even. In the end, it wound up dragging. Despite the fact that it's supposed to be a creepy thriller about a ghost queen stalking a teenage girl, there's nothing creepy here at all. And I expected some kind of dark undertone to it, having already read Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die. (I realise that it probably couldn't be light, enjoyable and fluffy, and have creepy, dark undertones, but I kept changing my mind about what I was expecting as I read it, because it's a bit all over the place. Like my current thoughts about it).
The other characters are equally intolerable, even the ones I'm supposed to have liked by the end. I didn't feel any kind of chemistry between Colette and Jules. The flashbacks/dreams irritated me, and I thought what was going on was pretty obvious, even though it took Colette a long time to figure it out. That being said, I was less irritated with Colette's inability to figure things out than I was with Armand's. I mean, this is a guy who has supposedly been researching the history surrounding Marie Antoinette (I'm trying not to be too specific in case anybody wants to read the book), and yet he didn't spot the connection between all the names in the newspaper articles. I wanted to climb into the book and smack him around the head. Although if I had the ability to climb into books, I wouldn't choose this one. I would be at Hogwarts faster than you can say apparate.
So, yeah, I was unimpressed by this book. And it's a shame, because I enjoyed the other book by Katie Alender that I read. I do think perhaps it suffered in comparison to Maureen Johnson's books - which you should all definitely read, by the way - but I don't think it had much going for it even without that factor.