The Threads of Magic

Candlewick. Apr. 2021. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536207194.
Gr 5 Up–Readers will immediately settle comfortably into this deftly written high-adventure fantasy. When Pip, described as a “thieving young man with black hair, short scrawny legs and weasel eyes,” pickpockets a Royal of Clarel, he finds himself with a silver box that holds a bewitched human heart. His sister El is wary of the magical object, but Pip can’t seem to part with it. He becomes the target of royal assassins, witches, and specters—all of whom will stop at nothing to get the heart back. The omniscient narrator gives readers a bird’s-eye view of the many-threaded plot and the multitude of players woven into it: Pip; El; the blonde Princess Georgette; Oni, a witch with curly, closely cropped hair, and her mother Amina; several kings; a few assassins, shape-shifters, and a host of others. At times, keeping the characters straight becomes cumbersome, and exactly how the magical heart will benefit those seeking it is not clear until more than three-quarters of the way through. However, the theme that power without love must be defeated drives the story. And it’s a fun world to be in. The close buildings, cobblestones, and mucky streets of Clarel bring the Victorian gothic mood of Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms to mind, while the worldbuilding and adventure will be enjoyed by Cornelia Funke fans.
VERDICT A great selection for voracious readers who aren’t yet ready for YA.

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