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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Review: The Moonstone Legacy [blog tour]

Authors: Diana de Gunzburg and Tony Wild
Release date: 31st May 2010
Genre: Literary YA/ Adventure / Mystery
Target audience: 10+

Summary from Amazon:
In a sacred cave high in the mountains of northern India, a white-haired hermit sits cross-legged, and signs his final testament: "George Abercrombie, 1874...". In present-day England, fourteen years old Lizzy Abercrombie's mother dies in a tragic accident on the full moon. But was it really an accident? Lizzy discovers that her death may be linked to a mysterious family curse. Determined to solve the mystery, her quest takes her from a doomed Anglo-Indian mansion on the Yorkshire moors to India where she uncovers the terrible truth about her ancestor and a stolen inheritance. But her discoveries put her in mortal danger from a ruthless enemy...

Inspired by the classic The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, this novel brings the mystery and intrigue of the past into the 21st century. The Moonstone Legacy is set in contemporary England and centres upon the Abercrombie family. It is two years since the death of Lizzy's mother and she is determinedly putting the past behind her. Unfortunately, her father is still agonising over the loss of his wife and the curse that is allegedly blighting the Abercrombie family. Lizzy is a plucky young heroine who seeks the truth behind the loss of her mother and the strange disapperance of her great ancester George Abercrombie. I was intrigued to read this novel as it is marketed as literary YA. An interesting concept which tempted me out of my comfort zone.

The setting of this story is my favourite part of this book. Shalimar was built by George Abercrombie as the family home and in the tradition of Indian palaces. Shalimar is a great estate and extremely opulent in its majesty, design and presence. Lizzy is mesmerised by the mansion and admires it from a far. Shalimar is the home of her Uncle William and his wife Lavinia and their children Samuel and Samantha. Lizzy and her father live in one of the small cottages on the estate and rent it from her Uncle. She goes to the local comprehensive school and her cousins go to a private boarding school. They have so much and so many opportunities. Lizzy cannot help but be envious of their beautiful horses. The twins are cruel and belitte Lizzy for her lack of public school finesse.

I have to say I found the characterisation in this novel to be very disconcerting. I honestly didn't find Lizzy a believable 14 year old girl. Her expressions and her behaviour for me pointed to a character of around 12. The twins are almost charicatures of mean people. I cannot put it in any more eloquent terms. Their dialogue was one dimensional, their behaviour petty. It made you dislike them which was obviously the goal of the authors but it also made me question the skill of the writing. I read them as a cliche and to me this conflicts with the concept of this as a literary novel.

The plot of The Moonstone Legacy had the potential to be gripping and frighteningly mysterious. In the middle part of the novel, I really did feel entranced by the Indian heritage and all that Lizzy was learning about her Uncle George's history with the East India Company. This is a part of British colonial history that I sadly do not know much about and it fascinated me. Sadly, though I lost it towards the end of the novel. I didn't feel that I needed to know the dark secret that was at the heart of the book. Whether this points to my lack of attention span or the way in which the novel is plotted, remains to be seen. I guess it would be fair to say both of those things factored into my lack of connection with the book overall.

I actually think that this book would appeal to the tween market rather than the teen. I think fans of The Puzzle Ring would enjoy it as it has that epic adventure / quest feel to it. Lizzy is every part the heroine and younger readers will connect with that I'm sure. Personally, this book just isn't for me. I loved the Indian heritage that is weaved into the story. I didn't like the characterisation or the plot line. The Moonstone Legacy is perhaps an adventure for the younger reader.

Thank you to Pushkin Press for sending me the book to review.


So Many Books, So Little Time said...

It's a shame you didn't enjoy this too much. I agree that this probably will resonate with younger readers and I loved the setting of Shalimar too. Great review!

Becky said...

Sophie, it is a real shame. But you know, I gave it a go and that is what being a blogger is all about. Trying something new and seeing if it appeals to you. I'm glad you liked the review! That is so good to hear!

Lauren said...

You are so good at keeping your reviews balanced! I have to say, I wasn't overly excited by the thought of this one and I can't see myself reading it. I definitely admire your commitment to trying new things though - sometimes it really pays off, sometimes it doesn't.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review! Although you didn't like the book, the review is great.

Caroline said...

I really enjoyed your review, thanks!
I read a few about this book and I'm glad you pointed the characterization! It happened a few times to read a book labelled YA whereas it looks more like an adult novel with teenage characters or for a 10-12 years old age range...
The setting in India looks amazing though!

Becky said...

Lauren, THANK YOU! I do try really hard to be balanced in my reviews. I may be good at trying different genres where books are concerned but outside of my book world, I am terrible. For example, I hate trying new foods.

Irena, Thanks! It is really reassuring to hear you say that.

Caroline, I know I think I am the only person so far to find the characterisation disconcerting. I am really lookingf forward to seeing other people's reactions. The setting was certainly the highlight for me. Thanks for commenting.

Lynsey Newton said...

Becky, TOTALLY agree with everything you just said and I'm so glad someone shares my opinions. Now I just have to write the same things, using my own words! can't I just link to your review with a comment such as "What she said"? ;P

Becky said...

Lynsey, that is wonderful to hear. I know sometimes it can be scary to go on your blog and say the things that didn't work for you. It is so gratifying when someone says they feel the same (like my views are more valid or something). Thanks so much for your comment and actually it made me giggle.

Rhiana said...

That's a shame, as the premise sounds really good! The setting certainly sounds amazing.