As street urchin Andrew fills all the qualifications of an apprentice, especially the one that calls for having No Alternative, he's taken on by alchemist P. C. Delver, Adept and Venerable, to keep the athanor stoked, the crucible at fume, the alembic at fizzle and, above all, to ""KEEP PEOPLE OUT OF MY HAIR."" What promises to be an easy ""gig"" soon turns tricky as Delver is blamed for the sudden appearance of a frozen lake that threatens to flood the kingdom and, soon after, framed by the scheming chamberlain Bogardus on a charge of stealing King Oliver XI's treasury, While Andrew and Sassy Strawspinner, the landlady's daughter, obey the message Delver sends via a trained spider and USE THEIR WITS for all their worth, Mrs. Strawspinner uses her delectable baked goods as a way to get the king's ear. It's one of those rich, highly refined confections, boiled up with a dash of Briticisms and a soupcon of with-it slang, and sprinkled with lots of ingenuous italics and capitals. But Byfield has both the energy to keep it bubbling along and an impressive repertoire of magic potions and silly spells. Serve it up for readers ready to strike out on their own from the similarly quirky environs of The Haunted Tower (p. 531).