The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini's act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack - adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara's life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.
As they seek to puzzle out Clara's whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini's criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before its too late.
Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz's Victorian gothic is a rich banquet of dark comedy, scorching magic, and the brilliant and bewitching storytelling that is her trademark.
Clara came awake in an instant. She sat up in bed, tingling with
the knowledge that it was her birthday. On this very day, the
puppet master Grisini would perform at her birthday party. If all
went well, she would have tea with Grisini's children.
The room was dim. The curtains were drawn tight against the November chill. Clara gazed at them intently. If it was very foggy, Professor Grisini might not come. Everything would be ruined; her twelfth birthday would be like all the others, with a trip to Kensal Green in the morning and presents in the afternoon. Clara loved presents, but she dreaded the ceremony of opening them. It was ill- bred to show too much excitement, but if she wasn't grateful enough, she ran the risk of hurting her mother's feelings. Clara thrust the thought aside. This year she would do everything exactly right.
She flung back the coverlet and tiptoed across the nursery floor, noiseless as a thief. If anyone ...
At 384 pages, Splendors and Glooms is a meaty-sized book with short chapters making the journey more than comfortable. Splendors and Glooms is a magical adventure for readers and listeners alike to enjoy.
(Reviewed by BJ Nathan Hegedus).
Full Review (1144 words).
In the early nineteenth century in England, parish churches and towns provided relief for the poor, but as the cost of looking after them kept rising and the method became increasingly disorganized, the upper classes and growing middle class who carried the burden of this expense by paying increasingly higher property taxes, sought a central alternative solution.
Parliament passed the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, which was meant to reduce this cost. The new law stated that in order to receive aid one needed to surrender everything (home, processions and most important, personal freedom) and move into the local parish workhouse. In return, one would be fed, clothed and given medical care. If this was not agreeable, no matter how ...
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