It is not often that I come across a grand tale that unfolds over decades and includes adventure across the land and sky, the pounding drums of war, religion, politics, romance, fast cars, fast boats, the love of a parent to a child, and characters who sweep you along with their words, actions and heart.
Frankly, it's almost exhausting to list all the parts of Vango: Between Sky and Earth that I enjoyed.
Vango takes place in Europe between the two world wars. Written by Frenchman Timothee de Fombelle and translated by Sarah Ardizzone, there is a rhythm and tempo to the language that speaks to its historic nature. It reads easily but not casually; I truly felt like I was reading a book written in the 1930s although the pages move with more of a comic book speed than I expected. (This is a very good thing by the way.)
The title character, Vango Romano, is a young man who bursts onto the opening pages as he is accused of murder in Paris. Quickly the text moves from his rooftop escape, to the police, to those who witnessed his escape, to a mysterious meeting in Sochi, Russia and and then back sixteen years to Vango's own childhood in Sicily. The reader might be a little confused at first as the action jumps quickly in and out of different characters and back and forth across the map and time, but soon enough it becomes clear that everything is connected. (Also, the time periods and locations are clearly marked at each chapter.) Studying those connections is part of the joy in reading here, as Vango's life became more and more significant as each page turns.
There is no magic in Vango, this is realistic historic fiction where the bad guys are terrifying enough without adding fangs and fur. As the heroes and villains circle each other and the clues are dropped to Vango's past and future, the novel moves from thriller to mystery to political intrigue. By the final pages it all comes together and everyone plays their parts in grand fashion.
Big moves, big action, big issues are the stuff Vango: Between Sky and Earth are made of. Next up is the sequel, out now in Europe, Vango: A Prince Without a Kingdom. which I'm really looking forward to reading.