The first book I want to showcase is Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric. If you tend to judge a book by its cover then you will already be shouting that it doesn't look particularly boy-friendly. However, neither did the covers of her previous two books for younger readers, The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium, and yet both of these books are easily amongst my favourite of the past couple of years. As you will read in Michelle's description, Talina in the Tower is not a sequel to these two stories, although it is set in Venice and I hope will be just as magical as Michelle's other two books set in that amazing city. Here is Michelle to tell you a little more about Talina:
Talina in the Tower is the tale of a boy who loves to argue and a girl who is more passionate than she is careful. Ambrogio dreams of being a barrister. His friend Talina, the daughter of an archivist, has earned herself the reputation of being the most impudent girl in Venice. When she’s not campaigning for egrets’ rights, or terrorizing the school librarian, Talina adores reading, cooking and magic.
The story takes place in a sinister nineteenth-century Venice, one inhabited not just by frightened people but also by bully-boy tomcats, educated rats and ravenous vultures. In the dead of night, savage hyena-like creatures called Ravageurs prowl the waterways of Venice, snatching men and women, not to mention children and cats.
When Talina’s parents disappear, she and her loyal cat, Drusilla, are forced to go to live with her sinister Guardian in his gaunt and lonely tower on the northernmost edge of the city. In the tower’s kitchen, Talina cooks up an unusual problem for herself: a complete change of identity – and species. It is only Ambrogio who recognizes Talina in her new state. The two friends become caught up in a fast-paced adventure, one in which Talina can never be sure whether she is more human than cat, rat, vulture … or Ravageur. If she wants to stay in girl form, fiery Talina must stay serene and reasonable. And yet, as the monstrous plans of the Ravageurs become more menacing, brutal and sarcastic, who would NOT be inclined to lose their temper?
The story explores ideas of ownership and identity. Who owns a city? What can a child own? How can you stay true to yourself, and yet grow as a person?
Set thirty years before The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium, this book stands alone. But readers of the earlier books will meet up with a couple of old friends – in their younger days.
Huge thanks to Michelle for writing this for us. Talina in the Tower is published by Orion and is scheduled to be released at the beginning of February. Michelle tells me that there will be more information about the book appearing on her website in January.