Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 5th 2016
Number of Pages: 288
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Purchase: At Amazon
Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever.
The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron's all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn't dreaming!
But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z's true identity. If Mary's not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.
Witches. Firebirds. Rusalka. Friendship and magic. I love how Baba Yaga was portrayed, and how you’re never quite sure who is the bad person and who is the good one.
Mary and Jacob’s friendship is one of the central plot threads. I liked getting to see how it developed during the book. I also liked how we were shown instead of told, a lot of the important information. We discovered things right along with Mary. Learning about magic and her new life, and getting to see all the changes that happened just because she had been picked instead of some other girl in her orphanage.
I loved getting to know the town of Iris as the children explored it. How although it seemed to be filled entirely with charlatans at first, there were actually a few with real magic hidden in plain sight. The way Mary learned magic, and then put together what she had learned, was fun and a change from books that have the main character start doing magic willy nilly.
The illustrations in the book were well done, and I loved getting to see the characters and scenes. They had a lot of detail, and really helped me picture what was happening.
The end of the book was full of feels (of the good kind!), and perfectly fit the rest of the book. I will definitely be looking to see what else this author has written. If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to!