The Mesmerist

Ronald L. Smith. Clarion, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-44528-4
Smith’s second novel (after Hoodoo) opens in 1864 England, where 13-year-old Jess and her mother have been running supernatural scams ever since her father’s mysterious death some years earlier. One séance goes badly astray when Jess returns from her supposed trance with a message she hadn’t intended: “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies. Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down!” The handwritten message, signed only M, terrifies Jess’s mother, who immediately takes them to London, looking for help from the eccentric (and not entirely human) Lord Balthazar. Jess learns that he and her parents were part of a secret organization, the League of Ravens, which has fought evil for centuries. Now, that evil has returned and Jess, who unknowingly carries the enormous powers of a mesmerist, must lead the fight. The shape of the story is familiar, but Smith deftly brings Jess and her fellow Ravens to life and ramps up the violence to a fever pitch at the climax. This tale, though not for the faint at heart, is certain to please young horror fans. Ages 10–12. Agent: Adriann Ranta, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 02/07/2017
Compact Disc - 978-1-5200-6584-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-5200-6588-5
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