Interspersed with notes, magical recipes, and a handful of tales from central European folklore, this is an enthrallingly dark tale of mystery, magic, and alchemy set in 16th-century Prague and Vienna Everything changes for orphaned Jan when his beloved uncle, Gustav—anatomist, natural scientist, and aspiring alchemist—enlists his help in a quest to create a life-generating serum. To test the serum, they must follow a set of ancient instructions and play a dangerous game of bringing the inanimate to life. When Gustav dies suddenly, it's up to Jan to continue his work—little does he know that his beautiful, calculating aunt dreams of using the serum for her own purposes—eternal life. Under the façade of her grief, she convinces Jan they must move from Vienna to Prague, and when she mysteriously disappears, Jan searches for her. In the plague-ridden ghettos and in the court of the mad Emperor Rudolf, he must pit his wits against an extraordinary cast of characters and events. His only ally is Zuzana, a girl with secrets of her own. Set against the vivid backdrop of 16th century Prague and the equally breathtaking Vienna, this magical, historical adventure is reminiscent of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.