Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Published: August 28th 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Clara Wintermute appears to have the good life. She is bestowed with presents galore, lives in a mansion for a home, and is given the most grand party by her parents for her twelfth birthday. But Clara is not a happy child. She must always remain quite and reserved. She does so for the sake of her parents but more for her mother. Her home is a trap that she must endure as a result of the guilt she feels in her heart.
Lizzie Rose trudges up and down the London streets with her adoptive brother Parsefall and her guardian Grisini. They arrive at a birthday party for Clara Wintermute and give her the best play she could imagine. The play is presented with puppets. She is enthralled with the puppets because they are unlike anything she has seen ever before. The next day, she is nowhere to be found. Grisini is suspected to have kidnapped her and that means Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are in the middle of it. They uncover what Grisini really is capable of and go in search of a way out of their situation but they just end up running into a trap by an evil witch who needs very much a child to save her whether they want to or not.
A book about puppets. Not your usual read. I didn't really think about what I was going to get myself into with this book. I only really remembered reading the summary and coming away with puppets and a witch so I was sold. Who gets to read about puppeteers ever? I enjoyed the concept of the puppets way more than I expected. It made the story original but as I was reading it and gasping at a particular part in the book I realized how original it was. It revealed a whole new world that kids and adults alike can imagine as their own.
Clara's mother is so glum all the time. She does have a reason but really I felt I would have run away if I were Clara a long time ago... She assumes the worst about her and she never gives her the benefit of the doubt. Clara of course is the perfect angel. I'm serious. All throughout she's even nicer than Lizzie Rose but I will get to her later. Clara forms a bond with Parsefall that makes me giddy. You might not think so when I describe Parsefall as being a dirty thieving boy who never showers and has only 9 fingers. Yep. It's a bit freaky when you first learn about the nine fingers but Parsefall was my favorite character. I seriously wanted to hug him sometimes but others I wanted Lizzie Rose to force him to take a bath. Not me. From what I can tell he took a bath like three times maybe so I doubt he would obey me...
Lizzie Rose was a bit uppity to me every now and then only because she tried to take on too much and blamed Parsefall for being lazy (remember he is my favorite so I will always side with him). I don't mean that I didn't like her because she was responsible. In time I did grow to like her and just really wished for her to not act so noble all the time. You are a kid! You are allowed to act like one and make mistakes. She was albeit very essential to the dynamic of the story because without her I doubt Parsefall could survive. Parsefall might survive but he wouldn't nearly be as well off. She did show remarkable restraint as well during the book with the even more evil character than Grisini - the witch!
The story is told through the perspective of many of the characters and especially in one in particular which was the witch. She is dying and complains of her pain and dreams of fire. She knows she will burn and even if it might hurt her pride she must find out what Grisini meant by unless. Grisini is kind of like the adult version of Parsefall only in that he's a thief and is also very very dirty. He and the witch, Cassandra, are absolutely horrible people. I didn't feel any sorrow for them. I felt somewhat pity for Cassandra but all in all... no. They both deserve their miserable lives.
When I went on Goodreads I discovered a couple of bad and some so so reviews here and there and I was shocked! This book was told masterfully. The characters are devised in such a way that you can't help but feel like you know them or at least want to know them (I'm talking about the kids. The others not so much.). Parsefall was just the best and he completely sucked me into his story or at least the mystery of it for the most part. Why oh why would anyone think this book was less than great!? Children of the world read this book and become amazed! I loved this book from beginning to end and I now must go in search of other books by Schlitz. You Schlitz, are doing everything right.