Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Ebony Mckenna has done it again with this beautifully written sequel about a ferret, a not so psychic girl called Ondine and a love so true you will happily swap places with Ondine for the day.
Of course, there is a lot more to the story than that but I like to match my reviews to the tone of the book, and since The Autumn Palace is very funny at times, that is how my review is going to be.
The Autumn palace takes place pretty soon after the end of the first book. Hamish is still very very handsome, Ondine is still very much head over heals in love and Great Aunt Col is pretty much still the meddling witch with a fondness for amusing poetic spells that like to cause trouble, and i wouldn't want to change this combination for anything in the world.
The duke, yes, the very same one whose life was in danger before, hires Hamish and Col in order to spy for him and find out who is trying to sabotage his reign. Ondine, unwilling to be parted from her very new boyfriend gets employed as a laundress for the duke and unwittingly gets caught up in all kinds of trouble as well as finding her loyalties torn.
With the Duke getting sicker, and the number of possible suspects growing daily, and little a little dog called Biscuit playing chase the ferret, Ondine and company find themselves on a race against time to save the Duke's life and find the person responsible.
This book is insanely funny and Ebony once again uses her little foot notes to add, not only humour but some extra information that would probably look silly in the main text. I mean, you can't really talk about the Brugel talent show in the main text while trying to discuss murder plots! So yes, the footnotes are a work of literary genius.
If there's something else that never ceases to amaze me, it's Ondine's ability to get into trouble rather consistently. This is not a bad thing, and lets face it, it most definitely adds to the humour of the novel. Although I can't let Ondine take all the credit for being a wee bit silly, as Hamish seemed to frequently get himself into just as much trouble (most of it involved eating stuff and a very angry dog) and he was just as amusing to watch..
Taking all the trouble making, and all the fun and disaster that ensues, i have to say this...I love a bit of silliness. Don't get me wrong, this book can be serious at times, but only when it needs to be. That to me is a sign of a brilliant writer; knowing when to be funny and knowing when to allow the characters you've written to keep a straight face and take things a bit more seriously.
As well as the old characters back in play, there are a few new ones. My favourite being The Infanta, Anathea who was probably responsible for the worst case of changing opinions about a person that I've ever had. One minute i hated her, the next minute I really hated her then i liked her, and then i loved her to bits. There's just something incredibly honest about that woman that makes her such a believable character and fun to read about and I lover her Doggy!
The plot itself, apart from being so funny I nearly split my sides laughing, was gripping and the whole book became a game of; "Who did it?" and "How is all this being done?" When the truth was finally revealed, i was pretty stunned, not specifically by who did it because before the end there are a lot of clues that a good detective would be able to use. The main surprise was how the culprit was getting to the Duke. I have to admit, I have never and i mean NEVER seen this method before in my life, and i learned something new in the process :-)
To be blunt (and I love being blunt) this is easily one of the funniest books I have read, as well as being hopelessly romantic as Hamish and Ondine continue to explore their relationship (in between laundry and erm turning into a ferret, because let's face it, that would kind of kill the romantic buzz).
Anyway, amazing, amazing read. Read this book, well, unless you haven't read The Summer of Shambles, in which case read that first then read this. You won't regret it!