Dirty Magic

Carol Hughes, Author . Random $17.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-375-83187-4

British novelist Hughes (Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves ) imagines a dark fantasy world where bureaucracy reigns supreme. Ten-year-old Joe, in a fit of rage, tells his four-year-old sister, Hannah, "I wish you were dead!" Soon he has a vision of her lying in a hospital bed, and Joe is whisked away to a grey landscape by Katherine, who says she is his "fetcher" and must take him to his "guide." They fall into the care of the enigmatic Spider, an elderly blind man who knows far more than he lets on and harbors a major secret. Spider tells Joe he is in "a place between heaven and earth," scarred by a decades-old war between the clans of rival sisters. Joe must get to the Long City, where he can pass "back to your world or on to another." Along the way, he helps Katherine break her brother Tom out of a monolithic prison called the Druckee. But Tom too has secrets—connected to the oppression of a society of brilliant inventors called the Heathermen, and the missing third sister, imprisoned by the power-hungry machine-builder Orlemann. Hughes has a lucid imagination and paints a vivid, bleak and ruined world—magnetic mountains that can drive men mad, a lake so polluted it corrodes iron ships in seconds—and wraps up her challenging story with a well-concealed twist. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-1934-8
Library Binding - 416 pages - 978-0-375-93187-1
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-375-83188-1
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!