Receiving birthday well-wishes is a delight, unless one of those greetings is on creepy green stationery that obligates you to reanimate a supposed-to-be-dead wicked relative.
Demonstrating that Paris isn’t always baguettes and bicycles, Maya’s 13th-birthday happiness is challenged from every angle. Her mother falls ill, her best (and only) friend, Valko, is being sent to Bulgaria, and an off-putting ripple of something peculiar is gradually transforming Paris for the worse. Maya soon realizes that Henri de Fourcroy, the cousin she banished but didn’t exactly kill, is behind the dark wave of strangeness changing the city. With the use of some sinister stationery, Henri binds Maya to helping him rematerialize at the eventual cost of her own life. Thus the struggle to save herself and the world from the growing circle of mischievous magic commences as gargoyles, a madwoman and a purple-eyed shadow stalk her. A twist of the magic makes its transformative effects visible only to Maya and Valko, cementing this as a battle they must strategically fight without adult help. Stone monsters and spells aside, this is at its core a tale of summoning intellect, guts and logic to save the day. This sequel to The Cabinet of Earths (2012) has, like Maya, only become more refined, its vividly sensory third-person narration artful and immediate. And though reading the previous book is helpful, it can substantially stand on its own.
A flavorful mille-feuille with equally tasty layers of dark magic, light comedy and salty determination. (Suspense. 12-15)