In this orphan-makes-good mystery/thriller with a magical twist, Rose and her compatriots—an apprentice magician, a spoiled 7-year-old and a shape-shifting talking cat—work together to figure out who has been kidnapping local children and come up with a plan to rescue them.
At the tender age of 10, Rose, who has lived an impoverished and cloistered life in an orphanage, goes into service as the second housemaid at the home of renowned and wealthy magician and alchemist Mr. Aloysius Fountain. Rose, who had barely been outside the orphanage gates, slowly adjusts to her new circumstances, which are luxurious to her modest eyes. Rose’s growing knowledge of the world outside the orphanage, her own burgeoning and increasingly emphatic magical power, and her relationships with other members of the household turn out to be more engaging and suspenseful than the story’s mystery. The climactic battle, which features the power of hope, is talky, still explaining at a time readers should be enveloped in action. Still, Rose is sympathetic and a pleasure to root for, the secondary characters have room to grow, and the ending can be read as a new beginning, leaving plenty of room for a sequel.
Character and the day-to-day workings of a wealthy household overshadow magic and plot in this engaging tale of an orphan servant-girl. (Fantasy. 9-12)