SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS by Laura Amy Schlitz
Best of 2012
Kirkus Star

SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS

Age Range: 9 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

Two orphans, a witch and a girl who laughs at death: Each shares the lens of protagonist in Newbery winner Schlitz’s fully satisfying gothic novel.  

Parsefall and Lizzie Rose assist a wicked puppeteer, Grisini, with his London street shows in exchange for board and crumbs in a Dickensian boardinghouse complete with quirky landlady and ill-behaved dogs. Clara Wintermute is a privileged girl living in the shadow of her siblings, who all died from eating diseased watercress (picky Clara made her twin eat hers). Clara demands the puppet show for her birthday, and shortly after the ominous performance, she becomes trapped in some form she can’t fathom. Grisini is suspected, and the orphans are drawn into a dangerous ploy orchestrated by a dying witch who needs a child to steal something precious from her. Each character is a little horrible: Parsefall is a selfish thief, but this neediness gives him a keen empathy and daring. Lizzie Rose is bossy, but her yearning for her lost family keeps them together. Clara is egotistical, but her steely will saves them all. The witch is more horrible than good, but she is a little bit good, like the chocolate in the box that only grown-ups like. The shifting perspective among these characters and cumulative narrative development (echoing Dickens’ serials) create a pleasingly unsettling tension.

Schlitz’s prose is perfect in every stitch, and readers will savor each word. (Historical fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5380-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2012




BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKS OF 2012: MYSTERIES & THRILLERS:

Children SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS by Laura Amy Schlitz
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Children THE CASE OF THE DEADLY DESPERADOS by Caroline Lawrence
by Caroline Lawrence
Children THE IMPOSSIBLE RESCUE by Martin W. Sandler
by Martin W. Sandler
Children "WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR?" by Lemony Snicket
by Lemony Snicket

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for BY ITS COVER
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for DESTROYER ANGEL
VERDICT:
BUY IT

MORE BY LAURA AMY SCHLITZ

ChildrenTHE NIGHT FAIRY by Laura Amy Schlitz
by Laura Amy Schlitz
ChildrenTHE BEARSKINNER by The Brothers Grimm
by The Brothers Grimm
ChildrenGOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! by Laura Amy Schlitz
by Laura Amy Schlitz

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenBINNY FOR SHORT by Hilary McKay
by Hilary McKay
ChildrenTHE CHANGEOVER by Margaret Mahy
by Margaret Mahy
ChildrenTHE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter
by Ellen Potter