David Blixt,
Star-Cross'd #2: Voice of the Falconer
(Sordelet, 2012)

Young Cesco is the hidden heir to Verona's master, Cangrande della Scala, the foster child of Pietro Alaghieri and the rest of Dante's family, and a mercurial 11-year-old. Voice of the Falconer brings Cesco to Verona with his entourage of protectors. Through an onslaught of plots, surprises and lessons, Cesco must make spectacular debuts, uncover secrets about his identity and, above all, survive. Meanwhile, Pietro's return finds him confronting both old friends and familiar demons.

With battles, intrigues and references galore, this sequel to David Blixt's Master of Verona retains all the momentum and excitement of its predecessor.

In Voice of the Falconer, Blixt sets up all the players of Romeo & Juliet, enriching their characters and continuing to make them his own. Entwining them with other Shakespearian tales like Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing, Blixt's cleverness will delight fans and draw the Bard new ones.

Far from staying in Shakespeare's shadow, these references spark seamlessly alongside history, prophecy, research and philosophy. Never less than an adventure, each aspect of Blixt's novels carries multiple sides: passion, poetry, humor, mystery ... Voice of the Falconer twists its cast through intriguing events without ever sacrificing depth of character.

This sequel's ability to reintroduce readers to old friends after an eight-year gap is impressive, but that pales to the achievement of showing such astute shifts in relationships and individuals through the novel. Even laboring under the knowledge of many characters' deaths, Blixt's portrayals give these people a marvelous wholeness and reality.

I've waited five years to read this sequel. This book is worthy of that wait. Its only problem is that I already care so deeply for many of these characters that remembering Romeo & Juliet grows painful. Luckily, there is always one more quest for my heroes to follow, one more mystery needing to be solved, one more gorgeous sentence that I have to read twice. Above all, there is so much of the plot left that I cannot foresee and that I absolutely need to know!

Blixt's historical Italy was never a place for the faint of heart and this second book brings no relief, throwing readers through a gauntlet of anticipation, suspense and wonder. It's a rough environment that not everyone will enjoy -- definitely not a cozy, relaxing read. For readers who thrive on challenging, intricate works, this is a gift for you.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Whitney Mallenby

14 July 2012

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