Talina in the Tower

Written by Michelle Lovric
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Elizabeth Lee

Review #1

Venice, 1866. On a quiet day in November, the Ravageurs, half-wolf, half-hyena, return to Venice, their ancestral home. They were cheated out of their homeland by the Venetians’ ancestors and now, not only do they want their land back, they are seeking revenge. First, they capture all the cats, and then children and selected adults begin to disappear.

The Venetians know something is dreadfully wrong – the nights are full of howling – but they blame the citizens of nearby Rovigo. When Talina Molin’s parents are taken, her unsympathetic Great-Uncle Uberto removes her forcibly to his home, the spooky Tower of the Sparrows. But Talina won’t be kept down. She is determined to confront the Ravageurs, rescue her parents and put a stop to the Ravageurs’ incursions. But time is running out.

I thought for a long time about whether this book could be called an historical novel or not. It certainly has fairy-tale and magical elements which argue against it. On the other hand, it is obvious that Michelle Lovric has done her homework; the novel is set in a very real, precisely dated Venice, whose sights, sounds and smells come across with wonderful clarity.

It is also more than just a tale of magic. This is a story of human greed, evil-doing, repentance, forgiveness and redemption which resonates long after you’ve finished reading. It concerns exploitation (the Ravageurs were paid for their land with a few cheap trinkets and sweets); imperialism (the Venetians feel themselves to be superior and look down on nearby Rovigo); and human rights (the female Ravageurs are kept in a state of subservience and ignorance) all of which are still relevant today.

This is a thought-provoking as well as a thrilling and enjoyable read which could inspire some interesting discussions. For 10+. Highly recommended.

–Elizabeth Hawksley

Review #2

Talina lives in Venice with her parents, until the unknown creatures (the Ravageurs) capture her parents and leave Talina to live with her sinister great uncle. Talina longs for her parents and sets out to find them. The creatures plot the downfall of Venice and Talina teams up with friends, who help her find out the truth.

The Venice that Talina knows is 19th century, but with a magical twist to it. With magical wolf-like creatures it makes the life of Talina difficult but challenging and enjoyable.

I liked Talina as a character, and though she is ‘the terror of the neighbourhood’ that give her a strong, gutsy characteristic. If Talina has a goal, she will go through all odds to reach it. Talina in the Tower is a gripping book, because at the end of each chapter it leaves you wondering how he is going to deal with the problem, or how well she will fare on her own in an unknown place.

–Elizabeth Lee, age 10