Macabre, historical, magical. Three words that summon me at a moment’s notice. So I simply could not resist reading and reviewing this wonderful murder mystery set in late nineteenth century Paris, featuring an independent, strong-willed young woman.
Thank you to Macmillan/Tor Teen and Netgalley for the review copy! All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 11/02/2019
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: Paris, 1889. When the Exposition Universelle opens in Paris, Nathalie welcomes a much-needed break from the heartache of her friend’s murder. The fair is full of sensational innovations, cultural displays, and marvelous inventions from around the world.But someone is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the guillotine with a gruesome display of their own: beheaded victims in some of the Exposition’s most popular exhibits. Haunted by the past and burdened with new secrets, Nathalie struggles to use her wits and her gift. Yet she and her friends must stop the killer before the macabre display features one of them… (from Tor Teen)
OPINIONS: Jodie Lynn Zdrok is back with a vengeance. In the newly published sequel to Spectacle, Sensational, Paris is in the throes of the Exposition Universelle of 1889, and our heroine Nathalie is confronted with a new string of theatrically staged murders. This killer, dubbed the __, beheads his victims as part of a twisted play.
But murder is not the only challenge Nathalie has to face in the conclusion to her story: romance plays a much bigger role in this second installment. While ultimately reaching a satisfying conclusion, this storyline comes with its share of frustrations and subsequent trust issues that reach further than just romantic relationships… Continuing to flesh out her complex characters from Spectacle, Jodie’s new additions in Sensational are no less multi-dimensional and well-written. Even minor characters come with their sets of flaws, aims, and motivations which become clear throughout the book. She is a master at revelations, sowing just the right amout of doubt early to keep readers on their toes, without giving the game away. And of course we get more Stanley content – officially the best 2020 release featuring a cat named Stanley!
Nathalie also struggles with her powers as they change, an issue that can almost be taken as an allegory for mental health issues nowadays. Looked at under those circumstances, Jodie’s writing of what is both an ability and a disability – something that will become clear when you read the book for yourself – is very nuanced and insightful. (Pun not intended!)