From the prologue: The witch burned. She tossed in a sea of blankets, dizzy with heat. It was fever, not fire, that tormented her, fever and the nightmares that came with it. 

Splendors and Glooms has been called Dickensian, but it has its own distinctive style. Clara Wintermute, the only (living) daughter of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by the master puppeteer Gaspare Grisini’s puppets, and invites him to perform at her home for her birthday party. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are Grisini’s two orphan assistants, and are dazzled by Clara’s home. They’ve never seen such wealth. Clara seems to have everything they lack: loving parents and enough to eat. But the truth is, that Clara has many dark and sad secrets. Then Clara vanishes that night, leaving the suspicion of the kidnapping to fall on Grisini. Lizzie and Parse try and uncover where Clara is, and come up with some surprising results. They discover Grisini’s criminal past, and fleeing London, find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to get rid of before it’s too late.

Splendors and Glooms is a really intense book. Though it’s middle grade, I wouldn’t call it a fast read. It takes time to get through and is not that suspenseful. You’d think a book of this genre would be. But still, I enjoyed the setting (19th century London) and the characters, and the plot was quite creative too. I got this one from Candlewick, and I’m glad that I decided to try it. It was good; just not in the way I was expecting. Rather than being a suspenseful and quick read, it was a read that you ponder over.

Read Splendors and Glooms:

  • if you are interested in puppets
  • if you like historical fiction

379 pages.

 
Very Good! I would recommend this book!
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