In this sequel to A Pocket Full of Murder (2015), Isaveth’s magical invention having proved vastly profitable for Glow-Mor, the company president rewards her with a scholarship to exclusive Tarreton College, where she excels at Sagery but is snubbed by its aristocratic students.
They resent the admission of a commoner from the Moshite religious sect whose father has advocated Moshite resistance, but two students break rank to befriend Isaveth: a new friend, Eulalie, and her old friend Esmond, younger son of the ailing Sagelord. Esmond needs Isaveth’s help to thwart older brother Eryx’s schemes. Both know Eryx is guilty of murder and has preserved, then hidden, evidence of his misdeeds. Isaveth locates this during a masked ball only to find it’s magically guarded. Her efforts to cook up a spell to disarm Eryx’s protections come to an abrupt end when she’s falsely accused of stealing a diamond necklace and suspended from school, which also threatens Glow-Mor. A secret agenda’s at work. But whose, and for what purpose? To seize Isaveth’s invention? To clear Eryx’s path to power? Anderson’s alternate world features characters of multiple skin colors (Isaveth is olive-skinned; Eulalie has brown skin), but race plays no importance in assigning status; this universe is divided by politics and class.
With its ornate, Regency-esque setting and intricate plot packed with mysterious twists and turns (plus a few serious themes), this sequel is part melodrama, part comedy, and all-around good fun. (Fantasy. 10-14)