Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: City of Cannibals - Ricki Thompson

City of Cannibals by Ricki Thompson
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on February 1, 2010
Published by Front Street
Pages: 269
Read From: 7.14.12 - 7.14.12

"You will not show yourself to the boy."  
"Yes. I mean, I won't, Father."  
"Or venture past your mother's cross." He gripped his spoon as if it were a knife. "You know why it is called the City of Cannibals." 
Of course Dell knows. But here on the mountain, all she has is her embittered family - a brother who torments her, an auntie who berates her, and a father who's drunk. 
And once she arrives in the city - if the cannibals don't eat her first - surely the Brown Boy will help her. Not that she's ever spoken to him, but she has seen him leave sacks of supplies for her family. Dell has waited long enough. She escapes to the city. 
The City of Cannibals is indeed fraught with dangers and surprises. The Brown Boy, Ronaldo, seems to love the fishmonger's daughter and he's about to become a Benedictine monk. John the Joiner asks Dell whether she's signed the Oath of Allegiance to the king, and if she will deliver secret letters to the Benedictine monastery. Worrisome messages about sheep and wolves. 
Dell has good reason not to sign the Oath. So does Ronaldo. But the king's command is clear: every subject must sign or die a traitor's death. If Dell defies the king, can she save herself and Ronaldo?


Cover Blurb: Even though it leers, I kind of like it. I certainly like the title’s font (you’ve probably noticed by now that I love swirly, fancy fonts), and I like the colors. Though I admit my first thought was that this was a story that took place in India, until I read it, of course.

What I Liked: I loved Bartholomew. It is true that he was only a puppet that Dell controlled, but somehow he was the best character in the whole story. That isn’t a mark against the other characters, either, because they are also good. But Bartholomew really stole the stage, as does Margery, who is one of those wonderful bubbly-personality characters who somehow manages not to be annoying. Dell and Ronaldo are good protagonists, though I’ll admit there is nothing especially memorable about them.

What I Disliked: I wish the Author had talked more about Dell’s mother. Considering her mother’s past has quite a bit to do with the storyline, I felt that I didn’t really get to know her all that well, and I would have liked to.

Believability: The Author has done research, especially in the area of how filthy cities were. No complaints in this area; Dell sports no attitude that is unrealistic for a girl in that century, nor does Ronaldo.

Writing Style: It was nothing special, nor was it bad. Though I must say that the Author’s gritty descriptions, while accurate, are gross and a little overdone. I didn’t need to know about every chamber pot, rotten guts, and foul smell that Dell encounters. I understood the first time.

Content: 1 s-word, and several sexual innuendos. Dell and Ronaldo do sleep together, but the actual “act” is entirely skipped over.

Conclusion: The end is very abrupt, but it somehow fit the story well enough. I do rather wish the Author had said what happened to John the Joiner, but other than that, the end was satisfying enough. As a whole, I liked the story; Bartholomew definitely makes it worth reading.

Recommended Audience: Historical fiction fans, more of a girl read than a guy read, and a bit of an older audience because of the sexual content, even though it isn’t detailed.

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