by Katherine Marsh
Disney Hyperion, 2016. 272 pages.
Mary Hayes is a resourceful little girl who lives in an orphanage. One night, she manages to escape – but is stopped by a moving whirlwind. The very next morning, an old lady, Madame Z, comes to adopt Mary, first confirming that she has no family at all.
Madame Z takes Mary to a home outside the town of Iris, where all sorts of two-bit magic users live. She meets Jacob, a kid her age who also longs for a home. Jacob is the son of an Illusionist, and they move around a lot. Jacob’s good at pointing out how magicians do their tricks.
Then Mary thinks she’s spotted some real magic. And Madame Z turns out not to be the sweet old lady she pretends to be.
This book reminded me a little too much of Baba Yaga’s Assistant — but I liked the graphic novel a little better, for its conciseness and charm. Still, this book works in more elements of Russian folklore – including the firebird, rusalkas, and a domovoi.
Mary and Jacob must navigate various magical perils and prizes in order to escape a dangerous magical villain and win homes for themselves.
This is a light-hearted magical tale mixed with Russian folklore and cooking, and an orphan longing for a home.
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