||Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her sorcery to a Victorian gothic thriller ? an enthralling, darkly comic tale that would do Dickens proud.The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini's act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack ? adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara's life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. As they seek to puzzle out Clara's whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini's criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it's too late. Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz's Victorian gothic is a rich banquet of dark comedy, scorching magic, and the brilliant and bewitching storytelling that is her trademark.
||Decidedly Dickensian in setting and story, this middle grade magical gothic drama practically sends Victorian London fog and foul street odors streaming off the pages. Intriguing, well-drawn characters abound, but three children are at the center of everything. Twelve-year-old Clara Wintermute's wretched and sorrowful inner life--despite privileged wealth and living parents--is due to being the sole remaining child after a terrible food poisoning incident when she was five. For her birthday this year, Clara asks her parents to have the talented puppeteer, Griisini, perform at her party. But when Clara mysteriously disappears after the show, his becomes the prime suspect. And when Grisini slips away, two of his street performers, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, must search for both him and Clara. An ailing witch up to no good tricks the pair into entering her home, leading them into an even darker mystery.