Saturday, 28 March 2009

Book Review: The Conjuror's Bird by Martin Davies

Genre: Historical FictionPublished by: Hodder & Stoughton (2005)Pages: 306

Synopsis: It seems a long time ago that Fitz and Gabby were together, with his work on extinct species about to make him world-famous. Now, it's his career that is almost extinct. Suddenly, though, the beautiful Gabby reappears in his life. She wants his help in tracing the history of The Mysterious Bird of Ulieta, a creature once owned by the great 18th Century naturalist Joseph Banks. It soon becomes clear that Fitz is getting involved in something more complicated - and dangerous - than the search for a stuffed bird. To solve the puzzle, he must uncover the identity of the amazing woman Banks loved - a woman who has disappeared from history as effectively as the specimen he is hunting.

The book has two parallel stories, separated by almost 300 years. The 1700's story gave you a real feel of how difficult and different life was for a young woman with no prospects at that time, and how dependent they were on men looking after them. This contrasts sharply with both Katya and Gabby, the two very independent women in the present time who face no such problems.

Alternate chapters effortlessly blended into each time line with ease so you didn't feel as if you were getting confused.

Combined with an usual mystery about a stuffed bird this is a lovely mix of history (Captain Cook's voyages) with a little romance........who was the mysterious woman in the woods that Joseph Banks becomes captivated by? And how is she connected to the missing bird?

Martin Davies slowly and tantalisingly reveals the connection between the different eras without giving too much away too soon.

This is an enjoyable mystery with a difference - not just for ornithologists!

First Line: "That Thursday evening I was working late, removing the skull of a dead owl"

Favourite Line: "The cage-reared bird will always partly fear the sky"

What I Liked about this book: How Martin Davies skilfully ended each chapter on a cliff-hanger

What I didn't Like: It was a little slow in the middle


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