SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS by Laura Amy Schlitz
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: REACHING BACK INTO TIME:

ChildrenFIFTY CENTS AND A DREAM by Jabari Asim
by Jabari Asim
ChildrenELECTRIC BEN by Robert Byrd
by Robert Byrd
ChildrenHEROES OF THE SURF by Elisa Carbone
by Elisa Carbone
ChildrenTHE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis
by Christopher Paul Curtis
ChildrenABRAHAM LINCOLN AND FREDERICK DOUGLASS by Russell Freedman
by Russell Freedman

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for THE PATRIOT THREAT
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for AT THE WATER'S EDGE
VERDICT:
SKIP IT
Cover art for THE WICKED WILL RISE
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for THE HARDER THEY COME
VERDICT:
BORROW 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 KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter
by Ellen Potter
ChildrenTHE CHANGEOVER by Margaret Mahy
by Margaret Mahy