Sunday, September 21, 2014

Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn

Faces of the Dead
Release date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA Historical Fiction

When Marie-Thérèse, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye.

My Rating: 3 Roses

An interesting YA read about a princess in hiding during the French Revolution, Faces of the Dead was a good book that I quite enjoyed. There were a few issues but, overall, I thought it was a lovely book.

First, let me start with what I liked about the book.
For the most part, Marie-Thérèse was a good character. I really liked how the conflict in her was portrayed. Though she loved and was loyal to her family, she understood why the starving, poverty-stricken people of France were angry. That dynamic made her an interesting character.
Henri was a sweetie. There wasn't much depth to him, but he was likable and always there for Marie-Thérèse, so I was rather fond of him.
The romance was sweet, though light. It wasn't the main point of the plot, but it definitely played a role.
The history was mostly accurate. The description of the Terror was properly bloody and tense. The portrayal of the built up rage of the French people at the nobles and royals who so carelessly spent money while the commoners were starving was believable.

Now to what I didn't like.
First, I found it odd how easily Marie-Thérèse grew accustomed to life as a poor woman. It didn't seem realistic, considering she had spent most of her life in such a lavish setting. Princesses were extremely sheltered and it didn't seem believable that she just accepted and adapted to another lifestyle so easily.
Also, though most of the historical details were on point, some small ones were not. I know that time was somewhat compressed in order to keep the story flowing and I didn't mind that. But, there were just some details that didn't quite fit. The one that got me the most was how much the characters talked about Ancient Egypt. Europeans didn't really get into studying Ancient Egypt until Napoleon invaded Egypt and brought along scholars, artists, and historians, who returned with their finds and began the modern study of Egypt. That didn't happen until years after the events of this book. Napoleon was in the story, but it was before he had come to power, so it wasn't quite accurate.
And, I know that this was meant to be in the perspective of a royal to show the "other side of the story" but it seemed like the callousness of the nobility and royalty was downplayed. The Revolution didn't just happen. It was built off of years of pent up anger over the fact that the upper class didn't seem to care that the poor were dying of disease and starvation. I only got one instance of that. The rest of it made it seem like the upper class was just victimized.
Last, there was a paranormal aspect in this book and I didn't really like it. For one, it felt unnecessary. There was enough going on with just the historical aspect. It didn't need a paranormal aspect. It was even worse, because the paranormal were just shoved in and didn't affect the story overall. It was just tagged in at the end to create a semi happy ending and I think it would have been better to just leave it out.

Overall, though, I liked the book. There were issues with it, but I enjoyed the story as a whole. The problems that I had with it might just be because I'm a history nerd and I tend to pick at any inconsistencies. I still thought the book was good and the ending was a satisfying conclusion that tied up all the loose ends.

Faces of the Dead was a good YA read that I quite enjoyed. Though I had some issues with it, I did like it as a whole and found it to be an overall nice read. YA lovers, if you want something that will take you into the middle of history, then you might want to check this book out.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


  1. I haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds like one that's I'd enjoy. I'm glad you liked it overall :)

  2. This is definitely a great book for those who like historical fiction, with a touch of romance. I hope you'll like it, too, when you get the chance to read it :)