- Kirsty Murray
Publisher: UK – Templar
Released on 2nd January 2012MADRAS, 1910: two girls are caught up in a scandal that will change their lives forever. Singing and dancing across a hundred stages in a troupe of child performers, they travel by steam train into the heart of India. But as one disaster follows another, money runs short and tempers fray. What must the girls do to protect themselves, and how many lives will be ruined if they try to break free?
India Dark is set in a totally different time when empires were still strong and evening entertainment was watching teenage children preform music hall numbers. So much has changed – empires are not really allowed anymore and anyone paying to watch pubescent children dress as an adult is usually arrested shortly after! India Dark follows the Lilliputians, a group of pre-teen and teenaged boys and girls singing and dancing troop on a tour in India in 1910 with the focus on one confident thirteen year old, Tilly Sweetrick, on her second tour and one unsure eleven year old, Posey Swift, on her first tour.
The story is told in first person from both their perspectives and switches every chapter or so. This style does give you two very different views and allows you to take a step back as it were to read between the lines of what is said and what isn’t. At times Posey comes across as too naïve and innocent – and you really wonder how much she understood about what was happening. At the same time Tilly does across as very manipulative and wise beyond her years.
The descriptions of the stops and events of the tour are well told and engaging. The writing was simple and charming, bringing to life a forgotten era of entertainment. However, I was never fully comfortable with the subject matter – especially as it was based on a true story! I felt sorry for Mr Arthur, the leader of the troop but at the same time I didn’t think he behaved well either. It’s one of those situations that there is no black and white – just shades of grey. However, the characters, that year and the country are brought vividly to life and were an enjoyable change to my usual YA reading.
Recommended for fans of Mary Hooper and Mary Hoffman. 7 out of 10