An original fantasy for middle-grade readers plaits together science, the supernatural and deep ecology.
Lucy Darrington, 12 1/2, is a spunky girl who has escaped the stultifying atmosphere of a San Francisco finishing school to reunite with her beloved father, a scientist whose livelihood as a ghost clearer has diminished with the spreading, turn-of-the-20th-century popularity of electricity. Lucy arrives at the fictional city of Pentland—in an alternate Pacific Northwest where American settlements are embedded within lands still owned by indigenous peoples—only to find her father gone from his rooming house. Is his disappearance related to Rust, which is killing off kodok trees, source of income for many settlers and First Peoples? How does mythical, elusive dreamwood fit into the picture? Determined to find her father, Lucy embarks on a series of adventures, most of which include Pete Knightly, a slightly older boy whose parents were housing Lucy’s father. The latter part of the book takes them deep into the Devil’s Thumb peninsula, where gripping, even terrifying, moments are seasoned with humor and a slowly blossoming friendship. The carefully plotted twists and turns will keep readers absorbed to the end.
A stunning debut with equal parts originality and heart. (Fantasy. 8-13)