cover image The Grave Robber’s Apprentice

The Grave Robber’s Apprentice

Allan Stratton. Harper, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-197608-7

Stratton (Borderline) invokes Shakes-pearean themes and influences to offer a fast-paced, entertaining historical fantasy. Found adrift in a wooden chest as a baby, Hans was adopted by the notorious grave robber Knobbe the Bent; at 13, he is chafing at the gruesome business of stealing from the dead. Angela is a teenage countess with a passion for puppetry and plays, who is unwillingly promised to the evil archduke Arnulf. Her plan to escape his clutches causes her to join forces with Hans, as they flee from the archduke and the wicked Necromancer. What they find are a band of reclusive monks with a secret, a family of traveling performers and their trained bears, and a group of unusually talented outlaws. As identities are revealed and prophecies fulfilled, it all comes down to some clever stage work to confront the archduke once and for all. While the target audience is likely to anticipate some of the twists, this clever tale hits all the right notes. It has the feel of a classic adventure story without rehashing overly familiar elements. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)