You know when you pick a book up on a whim from the library? Catchy title, brightly coloured cover, fun premise? It looks sort of alright, but you’re not really expecting much; just wanting a light read for the train. I did exactly that with Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer… only it completely surpassed all my expectations and I ended up totally falling in love with it.
Plot summary for Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer:
Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots. But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.
Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .
Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.
Star Rating for Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer: * * * * (four stars)
It may help, for review purposes, to point out that I don’t generally enjoy YA contemporary fiction.I’m just too far removed from being a teenager now (at the ripe old age of 30) to want to listen to a teenage ‘voice’ rant about how unfair their life is. I just can’t. That should add weight to my opinion when I say that Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is actually really, really good.
I think my favourite thing about this book is the detail that was given to the history of Paris and Marie Antoinette. I pulled out my phone a few times to look at photos of various statues and sites – like the praying statues of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI in the Saint-Denis Basilica. The book discusses the symbolism around their postures and why they are kneeling instead of laying, like with most tombs. It’s obviously not meant to be an educational book, but I’d be surprised if most readers didn’t learn something and also feel encouraged to go and do some research of their own.
Colette herself is somewhat annoying to begin with, but then she’s sort of supposed to be. One of the subplots of Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is the character development of Colette, as she learns that she is allowed to be herself and not change who she is to suit her rich friends’ demands. It’s actually done pretty well. Relatively subtly. A bit twee, but not overstated or unnecessarily dramatic.
Also, the romance. I tend not to be a big fan of romance, especially in YA novels, but it was nice here. It definitely wasn’t the major point of the book, which I appreciated, but it added a bit of charm. I think Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer would be poorer if it wasn’t included… and that’s not something I say often. And it ends on a realistic, age-appropriate (and not overly sappy) note.
The dialogue isn’t stilted and the prose isn’t cliched. It was actually a really pleasant read that never felt clunky or disjointed. I can be quite critical when it comes to these things (and all my friends gasp in sarcastic amazement) but I was impressed with the writing with this novel.
If I had one criticism, it would be the ending. It wasn’t a terrible ending, by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been either. It seemed a bit… easy. I liked the drama of it and the atmosphere; that was great. But the solution itself? Eh. So much effort went into the huge majority of the book that I feel that part could have been fleshed out a tad more. I have to say though, it didn’t affect my enjoyment in the slightest.
Final thoughts for Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer:
Is this a masterpiece of fiction? No. Did I absolutely love it and finish reading with a satisfied smile on my face? Yes.
I liked it so much that I’m actually going to go out and buy a copy, just so I can have it on my shelves. It was the perfect book at the perfect time for me. Unique, quirky fiction with a fun, historical twist.