Sunday, October 20, 2013

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Edition: ARC
Author: Katie Alender
Goodreads: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer
Release Date: September 24, 2013

I was grabbed by the title alone when I spotted Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer at ALA back in June. The title and the tagline ("Heads will roll...") made it seem like this would be a fun book, so I went in expecting a joy ride and not much else. Thankfully, I read the Goodreads reviews AFTER I finished the book, or I would have been disheartened - but, seriously. Did you read the title and the tagline? Anyone who got it in their heads that this was going to be a deep, groundbreaking book set themselves up for failure. Bonus points: It's not a series! Yay!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: 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.

As usual, the summary doesn't really do justice to the plot line. Yes, there are murders, shown in mini chapters at highlight points in the book, and Colette keeps seeing the former Queen of France pop up in the most unexpected places - but, more than that, Colette experiences life a grounded, decent human being, and realizes that maybe being friends with the popular kids isn't what life is all about. Double bonus: if you're a French language student, you get a lot of practice with Ghost-of-Marie, who (obviously) doesn't speak a lick of English.

I enjoyed this book and wasn't once turned off by Colette as a narrator. She's a flawed character, like all people and especially people her age, and she makes some heinously bad decisions, but she seems like she learns from said bad decisions. That's really the important part - nothing makes me throw a book across the room like a character who doesn't grow at least a little during the book. 

The author states at the end of the book that the connection between Colette, Her Majesty, and the murder victims is falsified and not rooted in real history, but I honestly found the whole thing pretty believable. Colette and Co. find enough clues in realistic places (history books, old stories, old buildings) in Alender's wonderfully rendered vision of Paris that I was actually saddened to learn it was completely made up. 

Grab a mug of tea and go into this book on a dreary Sunday afternoon when you a need a page turner that will make the time fly by. 

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