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It’s hard to find a sillier name for a book than Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, but the book has more substance to it than you might expect (I mean, not like War and Peace substance…it’s still called Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, but, you know, more than you would expect).
Colette Iselin has had a rough year—her father abandoned his family and moved to a far away city, leaving Colette, along with her mom and brother, to move to a small, dingy apartment, and her best friends, Hannah and Pilar, are snobby, rich, jerks that she’s nonetheless desperate to impress. A class trip to France offers an escape from all that, and Colette is beyond excited. But once she arrives, she begins to see the ghost of Marie Antoinette, who appears to be murdering members of old aristocratic families all around Paris. And, of course, Colette soon realizes that she might be next!
The major flaw of this book is how unrealistically some events are portrayed: Colette is supposed to be “poor,” but she is still on a trip to Paris? I did appreciate the fact that Alender made an effort to remind readers that Colette was poor—always wanting to eat in the hotel where her meals were covered, etc.—but, at least for me, it required a bit of suspension of disbelief to buy into that part of the story. The mean-girl character of Hannah was also entirely too cliché, to the point where the things she did were almost laughably cruel. Did anyone actually know anyone like that in high school? I know I didn’t, but I was willing to let it go, since Hannah’s personality is important to the plot.
In the end, none of that bothered me too much because this book is pure fun. Alender balanced well historical, horror, and dramatic aspects, which moved the plot along nicely so that it never felt that it was dragging. I really enjoyed the climax of the book—which takes place during a costume party at Versailles!—and the mystery was intriguing, if not wholly unpredictable.
I’d recommend checking this book out of the library for a lazy Fall afternoon of reading or a long car ride. It’s like a particularly good piece of Halloween candy—it gets you into the spirit of the holiday, it’s short and sweet, and it’s unexpectedly good. Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is not a life-changer, but it is a fun diversion.