As 1899 draws to a close, a savvy young writer of gothic tales becomes embroiled in a perplexing mystery in this first volume of a proposed trilogy.
Since inheriting the Penny Dreadful, 13-year-old orphan Penelope Tredwell has “single-handedly acted as the magazine’s editor, lead author, and publisher,” though she hides her true identity behind the pseudonym Montgomery Flinch. Now the “most celebrated author in Britain,” Penelope hires an actor to impersonate Flinch to promote sales. Receiving an urgent plea from the superintendent of Bedlam, the lunatic asylum, for Flinch’s assistance, Penelope sees the potential for her next horror story. Masquerading as Flinch’s niece, Penelope investigates, intrigued by accounts of patients arising in a trance at 12 minutes to midnight each night to compulsively write delirious, prophetic ramblings. Penelope’s investigation leads her to reclusive Lady Cambridge, aka the Spider Lady of South Kensington, whose diabolical plot to control the future threatens to plunge London into madness. Bold and intelligent beyond her years, Penelope pursues Lady Cambridge into London’s darkest places, facing gothic horrors greater than any she has written. Edge successfully delivers his own penny dreadful in the riveting style of a Victorian mystery.
Original, chilling, atmospheric mystery with a heroine of remarkable mettle. (Historical mystery. 8-12)