Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
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 it’s too late. (Description from Amazon.com)
This book is very gothically atmospheric. The characters are intriguing. The sorcery that gets blended into the story is done very well and I found myself drawn in by both the storylines and the horrific things that the children and even the adult characters were facing. And yet... I found this story read very slowly. Don't get me wrong. It was beautifully written, I enjoyed the story and I was satisfied when it was done, but it also took me about five days to read and for me, that is a *really* long time. I'm not sure exactly why it was so slow, but I have a feeling readers who are only halfheartedly interested may not make it through this one...
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library