Saturday, 14 January 2012

India Dark by Kirsty Murray

Publisher: Templar
Format: ARC
Published: 1st January 2012
Number of Pages: 336
Book: For Review*
Genre: Historical, Realistic-Fiction, True-To-Life Fiction, Thriller-Suspense, Action-Adventure, Mystery, YA
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Violence, Death, Mild Swearing
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Site: Kirsty Murray

MADRAS, 1910: two girls are caught up in a scandal that will change their lives forever. Singing and dancing across a hundred stages in a troupe of child performers, they travel by steam train into the heart of India. But as one disaster follows another, money runs short and tempers fray. What must the girls do to protect themselves, and how many lives will be ruined if they try to break free?

India DarkReview:
Poesy Swift and Tilly Sweetrick are Lilliputians – child performers who tour the world, singing and dancing, having the times of their lives before becoming ladies, gentlemen and ‘real’ actors.  To begin with, it is just like that for Poesy: she’s escaped the shattered remains of her family, is with her old friend and doing what she loves best.  But soon the money starts running out.  Illness strikes.  Under the pressure, the manager Mr Arthur soon shows his true colours.  And before they know it, Poesy and Tilly are trapped at the centre of a scandal.  Unsure of who to trustm who their true friends are, the two must find a way to escape.  Without destroying everything – including their own future careers – as they do…
I love historical novels.  I love the feeling of going back in time, getting a glimpse of the past, feeling like I’m there.  The last one is the trickiest to find in a book.  But with India Dark  I found it!  I travelled back to the early 1900s, touring India and such with the Lilliputian troop.  I fell in love with the world, the writing, the characters: sweet, too-naïve Poesy and overly-confident, always-scheming Tilly…  I couldn’t wait for my two narrators to reveal the scandal, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave!  Ever!
Poesy Swift, aged thirteen, was sweet, sensitive and really naïve.  She had a brilliant imagination and I just adored her voice.  She really loved her family, you could tell, but couldn’t cope anymore – not after her father’s death.  Poesy tried to see the best in everyone, and therefore overlooked things obvious to the rest of us.  But we all knew that sooner or later, Poesy would have to open her eyes and accept.  I just felt so bad for her the moment she did…  I loved Poesy, but, sometimes her blatant ignorance annoyed me…  She just had to grow up too soon, like so many of the others in this book.
Tilly Sweetrick, fifteen, didn’t care what anybody thought of her.  She was confident, bold, totally cool under pressure and really funny at times.  She loved being the centre of attention – in fact, the kids at school used to call her “Little Miss Noticebox”.  And once her mind was made up, it was final: No forgiveness to those who have wronged her.  She was an amazing leader: strong, fair.  She did seem to care for Poesy – she wanted her to grow up, explore life...  But she was rather cruel in her educating…  She could be truly wicked and manipulative at times, but I knew she only wanted the truth to come out.  To be free.  Tilly Sweetrick was a series of contradictions.  For ages, I couldn’t tell whether I absolutely adored Tilly or not.  She wasn’t nice at times, but I couldn’t help loving her.  It’s so hard to describe… 
Charlie Byrne, thirteen, was kind, sweet, wise, wonderfully odd and always there for Poesy.  He didn’t hide anything from Poesy: he always spoke his mind and he kept out of trouble.  Training to be a magician, I loved that Charlie believed in ‘real magic’.  He was just a real sweetie, loyal to the end, and always taking care of Poesy.  I loved him!  My star character!
Initially, Poesy and Charlie were like brother and sister.  But it soon turned into something else.  When they were together, I was so full of happiness at the sweetness of their friendship.  And the potential of something more…  Charlie was Poesy’s anchor, and I just loved seeing their relationship develop.    They were perfect, a wonderful break and some of my favourite scenes.  Plus: they were so cute!
Tilly and Poesy...  It was really interesting, seeing how the two’s memories of the same events differed – who was remembering the truth?  Or were they both merely seeing their own versions of the truth?  Seeing the world through both girls’ eyes was misleading to begin with.  Murray played it well, had me constantly guessing about what the two would do.  Why Tilly called Poesy a liar on the first page, whether it truly was Poesy lying…  I couldn’t tell, and I loved the feeling of mystery.  I was completely wrong at the beginning!
From the word go, hints of a scandal were dropped.  Accusations were implied, never written, never told aloud.  I was constantly forming suspicions as to what the scandal was.  As I read on, they got wilder, sillier and more unlikely.  All these hints, these guesses, made me desperate to know WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!!  I sped through the book to find the answer of my question.  So much foreboding, it just drove me insane!  And I adored every second of the plot, the twists, the turns, the hints.  Every single chapter had me under its power, the entire book was more effective than the mesmerising Tilly attempted.  It was a powerful book, one that consumed me and made me race to the end, desperate to find out what would happen to the characters, if the scandal was the one I felt it was.  And even though slow at times, I was never bored.
I adored the writing!  It was beautiful, powerful, emotional.  I just loved all the different metaphors, the descriptions…  I could tell the two girls apart – they each had distinct styles, but most of all the FEEL of their voices were different.  Tilly was more snarky, wiser, than Poesy’s more naïve, inexperienced voice.  Poesy was more delicate and gentle in her choice of words than Tilly, who being bold, confident and sure of herself didn’t have the same… shyness as Poesy.  I admired the subtle difference between the two girls, who I got to know as well as if I were in the troop with them.  ‘Though neither were that reliable as narrators: Tilly was a drama queen and Poesy was determined to only see the good.  But as I said, I adored Murray’s writing: so descriptive of all the different, amazing scenes, without being heavy and dull.  I loved learning about all the exotic places I’ve never been – especially as it was over 100 years ago!  More than that: I loved seeing the future.  I loved seeing what happened to my favourites, even if sometimes it was really sad (I cried!).  
Two unique heroines, one harsh guardian, a boy magician, a troop of young performers and one heck of a scandal, India Dark had me under its spell from start to finish.  I adored every moment, and I can’t wait for Kirsty’s next book!  And while I am aware there will never be another book in this world, I still long for one.  I want to know more about the girls!
If you want to hear more about Kirsty’s charcters – check out the guest post she’s doing for us tomorrow: it’s awesome! 

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Children of the Wind by Kirsty Murray
Anything by Celia Rees or Mary Hooper

Challenges It's Taking Part In:
Happy Reading
* This book was received from Templar in exchange for an honest review

1 comment:

Zoe said...

Great review, I totally agree. Looking forward to your blog tour spot tomorrow, mine is today ;)