Sonderbooks Book Review of


by Holly Webb

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by Holly Webb

Review posted February 18, 2014.
Sourcebooks, 2013. 234 pages. Originally published in Great Britain.
Starred Review
2013 Cybils Finalist

Rose lives in an orphanage. She wants nothing more than to get out of the orphanage and go into service some day. She wants to do a good job as a maid, and have nobody notice her.

So when she's selected to be underhousemaid at a grand house, the home of an important alchemist, she thinks her dreams have come true. But why does it feel like the walls and stairs are moving, like she can talk to the plants, and how can she hear the cat talk to her?

Strange things happen around Rose, and she's terribly afraid she's not the ordinary person she wants to be. But then some children in the neighborhood mysteriously disappear, including Rose's best friend from the orphanage. She's determined to find her friend, even if it means using magic to do so.

This is a warm and sparkling story, with a lot of heart. You can't help but like Rose, with her humble aspirations, excitement at living in a grand house, and loving desire to help her friend.

My one quibble is that the rules of magic in that world aren't clear. (Though they aren't for Rose either.) At her level, it seems like she can do anything she wishes for hard enough. I hope as the series goes on, those things will become more clear. But even with that quibble, I enjoyed every bit of this book.

We've got the below-stairs look at a grand English house -- with magic thrown in. The result is a lot of fun.