Karen Brooks

Random House


Format:Trade Paperback

Imprint:Woolshed Press


Subject:Child Fiction : Young Adult

After losing everything Tallow has entered into an agreement with the Maleovellis, she gets them what they want and they will give her what she wants. In order for this to happen though Tallow must first throw off the disguise she lived in for years and embrace her femininity. She must learn – language, music, current affairs, behaviours, plants, poisons and how to use her natural wiles, for Tallow is to become Tarlo, courtesan and toast of Serenissian society.

She must learn quickly, for all La Serenissima’s beauty, it is a city rules by corrupt aristocrats, where everything has a price and appearances can be deceiving. While a high priced courtesan like Tarlo appears free, only she truly knows the price she is paying as she plays her part.There are the many machinations that Tarlo is aware of or suspects but there are others she is totally unaware of. Queen Zaralina of Farrowfare is desperate to find Tarlo and has several things in play to this end. Then there are the Bond Riders who betrayed her yet still believe they have a secret she will not be able to resist. Tarlo may survive her change from candlemaker to courtesan but will she survive to see what she longs for come to pass.

This is the sequel to Tallow, a book I will admit to struggling to get through, so I did open this with a little trepidation. As it turned out I liked this one quite a bit more. The character of Tallow/Tarlo is one with a great character arc, one of complete opposites and this makes her fascinating. La Serenissima is an incredibly detailed world filled with vivid descriptions of people and places. For all it’s grand scale it is Tarlo’s story that interested me the most, and when we switch to other characters I found it a little frustrating. To be honest though, it would be impossible to tell Tarlo’s story, one that encompasses such a grand scale, without using other perspectives to fill in the necessary information.

Brooks has created an intriguing world in the midst of pivotal events and if you like your fantasy epic in its scale and complex in it’s events then this is a book I am sure you will enjoy sinking your teeth into.

A Bug in a Book review by Kylie Calwell.

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