Paris by Starlight by Robert Dinsdale

ParisbyMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Beautifully written tale of home

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale is an absolutely gorgeous book full of magic, toys and beauty, I loved it and so you may imagine that my expectations were astronomical when it came to Paris by Starlight and whilst I might not have loved this book as much as The Toymakers it certainly demonstrates the writing chops of this particular author.

The story is essentially a tale of home, and the fact that home can be found anywhere that family resides, intertwined with a love story of two characters searching for something more.

Isabelle is a young musician.  She trawls the streets of Paris, playing her lute at bars.  Essentially she’s looking for the father who left home when she was only a child.  Isabelle’s father was also a musician and Isabelle hopes that she might draw his attention by playing the precious lute that he gave her.  One evening Isabelle finds herself responsible for the care of a young lost girl and this is when she meets Levon and his family, refugees living a hidden life in Paris.

The People, as they are known, were cast out of their own country where they lived and worked on the landlocked sea.  They’ve travelled thousands of miles carrying their few belongings and clinging to thoughts of safety and new beginnings.  Eventually, their traditions, cultures and stories create a magic of their own, the rooftops are full of night blooming flowers and beautiful birds, water dogs begin to appear and underground caverns lit by phosphorous plants appear.  More People flock to the City, keen to find a home amongst their own and the magic spreads further.  Unfortunately, not everyone welcomes these changes and soon enough the People find themselves in a war between those who live by day and those who live by night.

What I really loved about Paris by Starlight is the writing.  Dinsdale writes with a beauty and style that is really captivating and brings scenes to life with vibrant detail.  The magic here is captivating and well wrought and without doubt this envisaging of Paris is something truly wonderful to read about.  I can see where the comparisons to Gaiman come from with the place being split between two worlds, in a similar way that Neverwhere existed beneath the streets of London.

The setting and magic are amazing.  Paris is an enchanting place to begin with and really lends itself to the magic created here.  The Eiffel Tower  alive with tendrils and flowers, hotels with underground tunnels and caverns and the many dark clubs where haunting music plays into the night.

We predominantly follow Isabelle and to be honest that’s something of a relief as she is a good character filled with hope and love.  Some of the other characters are less easy to like, they have their own agendas, or are filled with anger and resentment.

In terms of criticisms.  I felt that this could perhaps have been cut a little, only because it felt a little repetitive in some parts and there was a slowing of pace about half way through where I began to wonder if anything more would actually happen.  Obviously, I got past this point and the tension and action were ramped up but for a moment I started to feel like everything was dragging out a little more than I liked and it definitely held things up for me.

I enjoyed Paris by Starlight but I didn’t fall completely in love with it as much as I’d hoped or expected and I think that this lies mainly at my own door, probably because elements of this felt more real than I expected and at the moment I’m all about the escapism.  Without doubt, this is a tale with a message.  It’s about finding home and overcoming adversity in a way that really drives home what is truly important.  There’s a message about acceptance and learning to live amicably with others in spite of differences.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

13 Responses to “Paris by Starlight by Robert Dinsdale”

  1. Ola G

    Lovely review! I think I’ll check The Toymakers first, though 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, the Toymakers was much more my cup of tea. This is good and the writing is lovely but I think it was a little bit ‘real’ for me in my present head state. It’s basically a story or refugees, prejudice, fear and coming to terms with what is really important in life. I enjoyed it but not as much as the first book I read by this author which really is quite magical.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Paris is magical on its own, but the added magic provided by this story sounds intriguing, and your reference to Gaiman enhances that impression. I will need to keep this one on my radar… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is beautifully written and a book that stays with you after you put it down. I probably had unrealistic expectations with it because I loved the Toymakers but it was still a good read.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I remember how much you liked The Toymakers. I suppose after reading this review, I’d pick The Toymakers to read first:-)

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I think what appeals to me most about this one is the writing and the promise of gorgeous prose. Don’t know how much it will grab me though, because these days I’m looking for more escapism too 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, great food for thought but not perhaps a perfect fit for my current mindset.
      Lynn 😀

  5. pagesandtea

    I remember really enjoying The Toymakers, it was so magical. I loved the writing too, so would probably be tempted to pick this new book up at some point.
    Escapism is definitely good – I’ve just finished Shades of Milk and Honey and really enjoyed that just because it was something different.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’ve read your review and added Milk and Honey to my wishlist.
      lynn 😀

  6. @lynnsbooks

    I’ve read your review and added Milk and Honey to my wishlist.
    lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Well, doesn’t sound like a bad book but maybe just a bit average. I had not heard of this one but it looks like something I might enjoy, might have to add it to my list. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It has plenty of food for thought and magic – at its heart it’s a story about fitting in, finding a place in the world and creating a home. Fundamentally it’s about the plight of refugees and the prejudices they encounter. Perhaps a little less escapism than I wanted at the current time but he does write beautifully.
      Lynn 😀

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