Petra K and the Blackhearts

M Henderson Ellis, Author
M. Henderson Ellis. New Europe/Young Europe (Random, dist.), $11.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-9850623-8-5
Reviewed on: 03/03/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
Ebook - 122 pages - 978-0-9850623-9-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-92202-9
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Adult novelist Ellis's (Keeping Bedlam at Bay In the Prague Café) years living in Eastern Europe give this steampunk fantasy, first in a planned trilogy, a strong sense of place and an unerring ear for the newspeak of totalitarianism. Archibald the Precious, a child dictator known to the Youth Groups that revere him as the "Number One Play Pal," takes the reins in Pava, the crumbling city-state in which Petra K lives. Archibald forbids the holding or showing of dragonka, magnificent animals trained to compete in spectator-delighting matches of strategy. When Petra K finds herself in possession of a dragonka she's not supposed to have, her innate distrust puts her at odds with her invalid mother, her brown-nosing classmates, and the Blackhearts, the child gang that runs through the streets of the capital's ghetto, Jozsefstown. Ellis's pacing and plotting abilities show considerable gifts as Petra draws closer to the secret of Archibald's power; the prose itself is just enough to keep the narrative afloat: "But I had no choice but to be Petra K—and if that meant being alone, then that is what I would accept." Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
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