Set in a magical version of London, this fantasy features white, 12-year-old Hyacinth, an American girl who discovers on a visit that “history is a big fat liar” and that magic truly exists.
Hyacinth, who has an acquaintance with plumbing, decides to change the configuration of a faucet in her aunt Polly’s flat. This simple action causes a nasty chain of events beginning when her elderly white neighbor, Lady Roslyn Hill-Haverstock, tells her off for making the change, closely followed by her mother’s abduction at the hands of strange beings called Saltpetre Men. The twisty plot becomes more and more convoluted after Hyacinth and Lady Roslyn descend into the London sewers. The sewers are home to an amazing collection of characters, most of whom, when not covered in the contents of the sewers, seem to be white. In the sewers, Hyacinth meets a young boy with amnesia and his protector, a gigantic pig named Oaroboarus, and three heavily accented toshers, who scavenge the sewers. This setup can’t help leading to a rollicking adventure with a lulu of an ending that comes with the promise of a sequel.
Middle graders will adore clever Hyacinth and enjoy the other humorous characters, the puns (Oaroboarus, indeed), and the suspenseful narrative. (Fantasy. 8-12)