The Mourning Emporium

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Mourning Emporium is a new adventure with Teo and Renzo, the Venetian heroine and hero of The Undrowned Child.

As the book begins, Queen Victoria is starting to die. The world – and the suppressed ghosts of London – breathlessly await the inevitable end.

But there is one place in the world where no one is thinking about Queen Victoria. For since Christmas Eve 1900, the Venetians have been trying to save their thousand-year-old town from a crippling invasion of ice.

Queen Victoria
And now snow was falling in thick threads, weaving a white blanket over the town. Fragile roofs sagged under quilts of snow; churches were folded away in blank curtains of ice. It was as if the city had died, and now lay pale and otherworldly in a soft white shroud.

 

London Moody 'We fear that London has already fallen
to the same Baddened Magic that threatens Venice.'

Who has sent the ice? What has happened to all the drowned and missing Venetians? Where have all the paintings of Venice gone? Who would want to kidnap Teo's scientist parents? And why do all signposts seem to point to London?

When a Vampire Eel winks at Teo from under the ice, she begins to realize that the end of Venice's enemy, Bajamonte Tiepolo, has not proved as final as she had hoped.

Signor Alicamoussa,
the handsome circus-master

Teo and Renzo end up on a floating orphanage called the Scilla (which really existed in Venice). The salty-tongued Venetian mermaids, the wise Professor Mar์n, the handsome circus-master Signor Alicamoussa and other characters from The Undrowned Child make return appearances.

There are also new friends – a supercilious ship's cat called Sofonisba, talking parrots, and a Sea Sorcerer. In London, Teo and Renzo meet up with a gang of street children who work as professional mourners – and sleep in coffins – and a very sentimental English bulldog named Turtledove, plus his friend Pattercake, who cleans dishes in an Italian restaurant.

The supercilious Sofonisba

'And the Scilla was never meant for . . . such a long voyage at sea. The poor old boat is nail-sick. It pains me to hear how she labours . . . Her rivets are loose and the planks may not defend you from . . . what is below.'

Turtledove bowed low. 'Charmed, I'm sure.'

If a cat could give a weasel smile, Sofonisba gave one now, mewing,

'Certainly you are.'

'Yew know wot dogs is. Hot-heads. I blame me edikation. They allus taught us that any cat would murder yew for a fish supper.'

Sofonisba conceded graciously, 'I myself have known several cats who would do just that.'

Turtledove

 

'You have news for me?' she asked, drawing on her gloves. Her voice was cold and clipped. She opened the window and let the bird in. 'Is there news of the insufferable Studious Son?' she demanded. 'And of the accursed and as yet Undrowned Child?'

Teo and Renzo need all the friends they can get, because in this adventure their enemies include a callous Pretender to the British throne, a Colossal Squid, spying cormorants, Ghost-Convicts and, worst of all, a beautiful woman called Miss Uish, whose character is not beautiful at all. Finally, there's Sibella, a sophisticated little girl who is apparently kidnapped for a ransom. To Teo's discomfort, Renzo seems uncommonly fascinated with the flirtatious Sibella.

 

The wicked Miss Uish The fascinating Sibella

When Queen Victoria dies, all London is plunged into mourning. As the crowds gather for her funeral, so the enemies of London and Venice unite in a bloodthirsty, cold-hearted conspiracy. The stage is set for a horrifying massacre of innocent mourners.

But where to get help? London's own good ghosts are too depressed to stir themselves to save the city.

'And where are the real ghosts?'

'The poor things have taken refuge in the railway arches.'

'We've never seen a ghost and we've walked under dozens of arches,' protested Renzo.

'When I say in the railway arches, I mean between the very bricks. Have you noticed how humid it is under those arches? That is ghost-breath. The trails of moisture down the walls, the white efflorescence on the bricks all condensed ghost-breath and ghost-tears.'

The London mermaids are strangely dependent on medicines like Nurse Powell's Popular Pellets for all Female Ailments and Dr William's Pink Pills for Pale People. And the Londoners themselves are being weakened by the dreadful Half-dead disease.

Is it only Teo who suspects that all is not as it seems with Sibella? Who else can hold the key to whatever dark forces are united against London and Venice?

About the book  Meet the cast   The floating orphanage  Unspeakable eatables  London in 1901   Victorian mourning  Quack cures and corsets 

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