Why? Well firstly it's set in and around 1730's England. Shepherd-Robinson's descriptions of time and place are carefully and beautifully drawn. The architecture, the daily lives of the rich and those who serve them. The language, the mores, the expectations of society. And...the machinations taking place behind closed doors.
An orphaned fortune teller is our protagonist. Red is taken in by a gentleman and raised as a lady. But. Oh, there's such a good but! Who was her mother and why was her father always on the lookout for an unnamed enemy? In addition to her voice, there's another. Lucifer Dark (love the name), is just as determined to keep those secrets locked up. Answers to those questions and more are what drives the book forward. Shepherd-Robinson's plotting is simply stellar. Clues, lies, truths, twists and turns are all scattered on the way to the final pages. All I can say without spoiling things for you is that the plot is so very clever! And those final chapters? Did not see that coming.
Fortune-telling figures into everything. Red is an expert in an old method called the Square of Sevens. And it is this skill that lets her in many a door. I loved this bit - each chapter starts with a reading and what those two cards denote. Each one figures into what is going to happen in that chapter.
I chose to listen to The Square of Sevens. The reader was Imogen Wilde and she was the perfect choice for this book. Her speed of reading is not rushed, but is thoughtful. Her accent is lovely to listen to and she enunciates well. Her voice matched the mental images I had of the characters. She provides many voices for a large and varied cast. Wilde interprets Shepherd-Robinson's work very well - the emotion, the actions and in particular - the conversations. I felt like I was there in the 1700's.
An excellent performance of a fantastic book! Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Square of Sevens. 20 hours and 14 minutes.