Gosh, I just loved this book. I loved it so much that I've been putting off writing a review because I don't know if I can do the book any justice, but I must write something about it to recommend it to folks!
Under the Poppy is a wonderfully beautiful, dark, lush neo-Victorian novel set during the 1870s. First, in a brothel, and then in Brussels. We meet the owners of the brothel Under the Poppy: Decca and Rupert, and then Decca's half-brother Istvan shows up. Istvan is a fantastic character, for he is a master puppeteer, and the puppets are what made this story unique.
You see, to Istvan, his puppets are his family, he sees them as people, and he has a great talent of making them come alive. He has been all over Europe showing people of the upper class his talent, but something brings him to the Poppy. Part of that something is a secret and part of it is Rupert.
At the Poppy, Istvan incorporates his puppets into the half-arsed stage show the brothel likes to put on. After a while, with a war coming, the members of the Poppy leave and scatter all over Europe. Decca decides to stay at the Poppy. Istvan, Rupert and one of the prostitutes – who has sort of become Istvan's apprentice – Lucy end up in Brussels.
But a secret follows them and it and temptation threatens to tear Rupert and Istvan apart.
Under the Poppy is my kind of novel. It is a pure character driven story. The first half of the story moves slow, because everyone is moving cautiously and people are tense. However, during the second half, the story picks up a bit because more things are happening at once. I could not read fast enough, but I also wanted to savor the beautiful writing.
The writing was so intricate and gorgeous. Sometimes I went back to read over a section because I wanted to make sure I caught everything, but sometimes I went back just to reread the words again and again.
Sidenote: Under the Poppy is currently being developed as a stage show, set to debut in 2011. I have to admit, I geeked out when I heard that. This would be amazing on the stage!
Visit http://www.underthepoppy.com/ to learn more and watch the book trailer!