Written by Jenni Spangler, Illustrations by Chris Mould
Publishing by Simon and Schuster April 2020.

“From a tiny glass box on a shelf, a girl began to appear pouring out like liquid and becoming solid before Leander’s eyes”.

What an enticing quote from an intriguing debut novel. Leander, our main character, is an orphan- constantly chased out of home and bakeries. Thieving seems his only option for survival until he meets Madame Pinchbeck. To the reader, she is a delightfully devious villain but to cold, hungry Leander, she is a life line. She offers food, warmth and a sense of belonging- all of which has been missing since his mother passed away.

Heeding an initial warning from a strange girl, Leander runs from Pinchbeck. When he returns a second time, the warning comes too late and Leander is trapped. The explanation that follows from the girl, Charlotte, and another boy, Felix is unbelievable and Leander feels they are tricking him.

What has actually happened is that Madame Pinchbeck now owns and controls Leander and uses the children to further her career as a swindling medium for the upper classes. Character links, special bonds and an unwavering commitment to free themselves becomes an incredible, dangerous and time constrained adventure.

Pinchbeck is the ultimate Victorian baddie- evil, twisted and thieving. Perfect for this tale!

The initial quote on the proof copy draws the reader in, and it is an essential part of Leander’s new life. Charlotte and Felix must teach Leander to enter and exit his vessel. They each have one item that is so special to them, they become attached to it. Pinchbeck can control them but they must learn to use it as well.

All three children are on a mission of their own and only together can they break the spell holding them to their item and Madame Pinchbeck.

Fast paced, magical and adventurous, danger lurking in the darkness and a villainous stealer of children- can the children escape?

I was incredibly lucky to borrow this from a bookish friend and look forward to seeing this finished book with illustrations by the talented Chris Mould.

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