Novels about the French Revolution tend to be pretty intense -- the mobs, the guillotines, these are not the lightest of topics. But when you throw in magical gypsies and make it a YA novel, you have my attention. That's exactly what Sally Gardner does here.
In 1789, the orphaned Yann is being raised by the strange dwarf Têtu, and the two of them work for Topolain the magician. On the night of the magician's death, Yann meets the lonely heiress Sido. Their brief encounter changes the paths of both of their lives.
Sido and her wealthy father are accused of treason against the Revolution, in the person of the devilish Count Kalliovsky, who is involved in a mysterious secret society. By the end of the novel, when their paths cross again, Yann has discovered the powers that come with his gypsy heritage. He sets out to rescue Sido, and the pair fights the power of the Count to rescue Sido's father.
The setting in Revolution-era France adds color and drama to the novel, ramping up the adventure. The bizarre mix of historical fiction and magical adventure make for a fascinating albeit somewhat unsettling read.
The audio version of the novel is excellent, with Tom Hiddleston (known as Loki in Thor and the Avengers) doing a fantastic job bringing this vibrant cast of characters to life.