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The False Rose - Jakob Wegelius

When Sally Jones and The Chief discover a curious rose-shaped necklace hidden onboard their beloved Hudson Queen, it’s the start of another perilous adventure for the seafaring gorilla and her faithful friend. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, they set sail for Glasgow, but there fall into the clutches of one of the city’s most ruthless gangs, commanded by a fearsome smuggler queen who will stop at nothing to snatch the necklace for herself. Held prisoner hundreds of miles from friendship and safety, Sally Jones must use all her strength, determination and compassion to escape and unravel the mysterious story of the False Rose – a twisting tale leading all the way from Lisbon to Shetland and the South Seas.

I was a late arrival into the wonderful world of Sally Jones and The Hudson Queen, but it's fast become one of my favourite series. I was delighted to get my hands on an early copy of the latest adventure, and to be asked to be part of the blog tour for The False Rose, the third book in Jakob Wegelius' series following talking ape, Sally, as she and the Captain get embroiled in yet another adventure together.

Like the previous books, this one takes in a range of locations and includes a great variety of characters throughout (readers of previous instalments will not be disappointed to meet some familiar friends!). Jakob Wegelius describes all these - people and places - with such detail and vividness that you can't help but feel you are there alongside Sally, whether it be on-board the Hudson Queen late at night hearing a suspicious intruder, or at the funfair as she works to earn money for repairs.

The core part of this story, however, sees Sally and the Chief in Glasgow following the discovery of a secret and extremely valuable necklace with a mysterious past, at the hands of an evil gang. I'm not sure it was shown in Sweden, but if Jakob Wegelius was going for a Peaky Blinders type feel, he nailed it...brilliant!

The amazing illustrations, truly marvellous back and white sketches of the various characters, are also a wonderful element of the book, adding incredible atmosphere and creating another level of detail and description alongside the story itself.

As usual, Sally narrates the story by typing it out and writing it...her inability to speak but being able to hear and understand playing a key part in the tale as she is forced to work with the gang members and try to work out a way of escaping the predicament. Any disbelief at the featuring of an intelligent ape as a character vanishes quickly...please do not let that put you off!

There are elements in the story that would lead easily to discussions around acceptance (Sally's experiences of prejudice and maltreatment), and also themes of morality, right and wrong, compassion and forgiveness, as the character of Sally looks after one of the gang members who has shown her kindness when being held captive.

I could talk about this book for pages on here, and have tried desperately hard not to spoil the enjoyment by revealing too much...all I can say is that this is one of the best books in the best series that I have ever encountered. I was genuinely sad to finish reading it...the whole experience was a joy...the plot, writing and characters, and I recommend that you get a copy as quickly as you can to see for yourself!!

If you don't believe me, have a look at what these other bloggers on the tour have to say:

Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Poppy at Pushkin Press for sending a copy to me for review and asking me to be part of the blog tour.

#TheFalseRose is out now.

Follow Pushkin Press as @PushkinPress on Twitter. They're one of my favourite publishers at the minute, especially for brilliant translations such as this, and for both children's and adult fiction.

Review by Rich Simpson (follow me as @richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram) October 2021. All opinions my own.

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