Discovering his true identity, a young grave robber uses his particular skills to help faeries trapped in Victorian London.
Thomas spends nights assisting his father, Silas, who steals valuables from graves. On the eve of his 12th birthday, Thomas finds a corpse that looks exactly like him in a fresh grave with a paper saying: “My name is Thistle.” After Silas confesses he found Thomas curled up on a grave as a baby, Thomas encounters Deadnettle, a “bizarre, frail faery,” who has been waiting to tell him about his real mother, Wintercress, the faery queen. Thirteen years before, an evil spiritualist, Mordecai, lured the faeries to London, forcing them to communicate with dead spirits in his séances. Barred from returning to the faery realm, the faeries are slowly dying. Wintercress’ other son, Thistle, died trying to open the gateway. Last of the royal line, Thomas remains their only hope to escape. “Not a faery and not a human,” Thomas valiantly rallies to outwit Mordecai. Deliberate pacing takes readers back and forth between Thomas, as his awareness emerges, and Deadnettle, as he waits doubtfully. The spiritualist element and the graveyard settings conjure a macabre atmosphere for this unusual tale of unexpected origins and extraordinary loyalties.
Readers will find that this darkly intriguing faery story has an appealingly grounded hero. (Fantasy. 8-12)