Michelle Lovric Books for Children
Talina in the Tower
About the Book Talina in the Tower Meet the Cast The twiteering tower Venetian Curiosities Dining à la Ravageur



The Ravageurs are greedy feeders. They love to eat meat, and they love it dressed up in fancy sauces. The food is delivered to their skin-covered tables by terrified sheep with trays strapped to their backs.

Here is an extract from the chapter in which Talina, to her horror, is forced to observe how the Ravageurs eat - and what they eat. It's not a pretty sight.



The Sala del Sangue was dominated by a long, narrow table in a U shape, at human knee height. Bloodstained leather skins were laid over it. On those the rats swarmed, setting out hundreds of black spoons, glistening with a dark liquid. The Ravageurs perched on leather cushions, little growls of hunger escaping from their jaws. Talina was disgusted to see that some lapped from bleached human skulls, cut in half and mounted on black stones. Others scratched themselves, raising more puffs of skin and fur, or snapped at their neighbours ...


A dozen doors opened simultaneously on the far side of the sala, where the favoured seats were. As if kicked from behind, a large sheep rushed in from every door, each wearing a kind of harness with an elaborate saddle strapped to its back. On the saddles sat silver salvers heaped with food. As the sheep trotted around the U-shaped table, Ravageurs turned and dragged whatever they fancied from the nearest salver onto the filthy leather tablecloths.

'Well, I can see why they don't bother with plates,' thought Talina, watching the Ravageurs tearing at their meat and guzzling the sauces. Between courses, they impatiently sucked the spilled juices that had soaked into the leather tablecloths.


One course appeared to be delayed. Howls of frustrated hunger rang through the Sala del Sangue. Talina watched in horror as a Ravageur's jaws closed around a woolly waiter's neck. His companions turned on him in fury.


'Lay off, Nochin Quinchou! You barbarian!' The two Ravageurs on either side of him shouted, nipping him until he let go of the sheep.

'I forgot myself, Croquemort. Sorry, Fildefer,' muttered Nochin Quinchou, hanging his mange-ridden head, while Croquemort slapped him repeatedly on one side of it. 'Ouch, ouch, you'll have my ear off!'

Evidently this was the only form of table-manners that the Ravageurs observed: not to eat the waiters.

The Vizier announced each new dish as it arrived on sheepback from the kitchen. In spite of her disgust, Talina leant forward with interest. Years of poring over French cookbooks made nearly all these dishes familiar to her - though she'd never had the luxury of tasting them.



Timballes de queues d'Ecrevisses Mantua

Prawn-tail mousse

Terrine de foie gras avec sa gelée

Goose livers with jelly

Faisan à la Financière

Bankers' Pheasant

Tournedos de Rat Mort

(one Talina had not seen before)

Canard Pompéien

Pompey Duck turned out to be a cold duck stuffed with foie gras, its flesh decorated with spices painted on in a design of red and black on a white background.

Consommé Vivant

This was wriggling with live lobsters, which the Ravageurs picked off with terrible relish, smashing the crustaceans on the table and tearing their tails off.
For dessert there was:

Le Soufflé aux taupes caramélisées, ses Macarons et Chantilly

Soufflé of Caramelized Moles with macaroons and whipped cream


The Ravageur Lord was the only one to eat off a kind of plate. He was seated at the ruins of an altar above the open ends of the U-shaped table. Talina was horrified to see that a beautiful old illustrated book served as his place setting. A sage-leaf cigar lay smouldering perilously close to one corner of it.

'No doubt stolen from the Archives at the same time as my father!' thought Talina.

A butler Ravageur clamped a tarnished silver ladle in his jaw to serve Lord Grignan reverent helpings of every delicacy - straight onto the book. Occasionally, when the page became so saturated with bloody sauce that the food slipped off it, the butler deftly spread a new chapter open with his claw. Beside the book was a large glass jar of Spiced Mostarda from Golosi's. Grignan picked up the pot with his jaws and emptied a splash of the orange fruit mustard onto his food.




Extract from Talina in the Tower, published by Orion Children's Books
© Michelle lovric 2012
Do not reproduce without permission from the publishers

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