It’s 1935. War is looming, and Alderberen Hall is shrouded in suspicion and paranoia. Delphine Venner, the determined thirteen-year-old, isn’t quite so taken by this elite society as her mother and father, instead using her time to unravel the secrets she’s certain exist. The story she stumbles on is darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined.
There’s a vast and odd mix of characters, but one thing is certain: Delphine seems to be a nuisance to all of them. Questioning too much, getting under their feet, and through wanting to help her daddy ends up with a conspiracy of far reaching spies and plans to ship her off to the enemy. The only person she doesn’t annoy is the reader – she’s fantastic.
A lot of the characters take a while to draw you in, but Delphine is just an incredible girl. Determined, brave, a fan of guns, she won’t let anything stop her, and is quick to argue anyone who dismisses her as a child. The relationship with her father is another real clincher on keeping you reading. I’m loath to use the term ‘the feels’ (urgh), but their family dynamic definitely gave me that. It was just such a strong connection, especially seeing how protective the daughter is of her dad.
Though the mundanity of everyday life got to her, and was probably the driving force of her exploration, when the fantasy elements appeared it was like a dam bursting, overwhelming and consuming. Nothing was held back.
At its core The Honours is a young girl trying to make sense of a world who seems to ignore her, when she’s the only one noticing things slipping away from reality. Though there’s an actual plot afoot – mental struggles with past conflict, marital indiscretions, plans to betray, to barter to avoid war – and vivid writing throughout, it’s easy to get swept up primarily with Delphine, so resolute and captivating! She’s a rebel, a little bit unpredictable and hot-headed, but she’s always acting with the best interests at heart.
Basically, this was an excellent book. You’ll get swept up in the conspiracies, the family dynamics, just sheer perseverance to unveil a plot she’s so sure is afoot.
2nd April 2015 | Canongate