The son of a fantasy novelist finds himself in an adventure worthy of one of his mother’s plots.
When his author mother dies, William Poppy, a 12-year-old white boy, is forced to live with his last living relative, eccentric, stingy Aunt Mauve. She abruptly moves them from London into a hauntingly magical castle, Sparrowhawk Hall, staffed with two suspicious servants who greet its new residents with nothing but a bad attitude. Desperate to escape both his aunt and the servants, he finds his way into the tiny cobblestone village, where he meets friends (all white): an aspiring acrobat named Emma; a baker and animal empath named Thom; and Mr. Fabian, the owner of the village’s fantasy bookstore, Ex Libris. Though the quirky village inhabitants initially reject Will’s presence, they slowly become his allies and turn their metaphysical talents to helping him. Will quickly stumbles upon the secrets of the castle, exploring winding tunnels and spying mystical Muses that follow him, appearing and disappearing like ghosts. Slowly, his discoveries lead him to a dark past connection hidden in the forests of Darkwood. In modern preteen Will, Citra creates an enchanting character full of spunk, and she paces this story with an ease that lulls readers right into this suspenseful, moment-to-moment journey as Will transitions back and forth between the human world and the supernatural.
Solid worldbuilding makes this a believable, page-turning adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)