An intriguing and original story that combines historical fiction with fantasy.

During the French Revolution Yann, a French gypsy, is intent on saving people from the terror of the guillotine. He and his group of collaborators hide under the cover of a popular theatre house, actors by day and saviours by night. He possesses a gypsy magic that enables him to control the ‘threads of light’, a mysterious power to guide the will of people and objects. He is intent on only using this magic for good.

The Terror accelerates and the city becomes a living nightmare where brutality and betrayal are rampant.

At the heart of this hell on earth is the evil Count Kalliovski whose devilish origin becomes clear as the story progresses. The Count possesses a more sinister power to control the ‘threads of darkness’, and in his craving for absolute power he desires the secret to controlling the threads of light.

The vivid imagery of the magical struggle between good and evil graphically portrays the moral war being waged in the revolution. Added to this is a passionate love story that overcomes barriers of race and class and the evil plotting of the Count.

There are three areas to be aware of for younger readers: the vivid depiction of evil connected with the devil himself (the Count is the devil possessing an irredeemable soul, he makes walls out of the bones of his victims and turns their dead bodies into ‘automatons’ that follow his will). Second, the blatantly damning attitude towards all characters who do evil (a wife exulting that her evil husband is dead, an evil son asserting that there would be no hope for his evil, murdered father, and frequent literal use of the term ‘go to hell’). And third, there is a briefly implied scene of the two lovers sharing a bed before they are married.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...