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by Teresa Flavin

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5694-2
Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Video games and themes parks are no match for the world Il Corvo created.

Centuries ago, Fausto Corvo, an artist as famous for his works as for his knowledge of astral magic, disappeared along with paintings rumored to be enchanted; that is, canvases people could literally enter. Over the years, Il Corvo has been hunted by many; most notably, the power-hungry Soranzo and a rival, Bellini, anxious to steal Il Corvo's secrets. When Sunni's stepbrother Dean accidentally enters The Mariner's Return to Arcadia, which hangs in Blackhope Tower, she and school chum Blaise follow. As they traverse a fantastic labyrinth of the artist's making—one layer, one underpainting, after another—they confront fearful creatures and are pursued by villains as desperate to locate Il Corvo as the threesome are to find their way home. The plot, like a labyrinth, is full of unexpected twists, and there are threats to be faced at every turn. The settings are described in detail, and interesting facts about painting techniques are cleverly interwoven. The three youngsters each respond differently to the challenges presented by the journey and return home changed but ready to continue their day-to-day lives—just as the characters trapped in Il Corvo's painting will continue theirs.

Readers raised on Jon Agee's The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau (1988) will be delighted with Flavin's fully-realized, action-packed debut. (Fantasy. 9-12)