I am a Frances Hardinge evangelist, and I wish we could get every title she writes brought over to the US. "A Face Like Glass" was extraordinary, but I had to buy it for my Kindle because no American publisher picked it up. This new title is yet another masterful dark fantasy, perfect for a wide range of mature middle grade readers and teens. Hardinge's writing, as always, is evocative, atmospheric, and emotionally engaging. Many of these characters are unsympathetic on the surface, but they offer such complexity that readers will find themselves rooting for almost everyone in some way. The supernatural world is teasing, with just enough detail to draw readers in but Hardinge stops short of fully explaining everything, which is refreshing. The ending is satisfying but resists being too tidy. Really, there's something in this for most readers: a wonderful family and sibling story that's emotionally authentic for fans of realistic fiction, a well-wrought dark fairyland and a delicious villain for fantasy readers, and plenty of creepy details (including some terrifying dolls) for those who love a bit of horror. And all perfectly pitched to appeal to readers as young as 8 or 9 as well as older teens.

chelseasc's rating:
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