The story of The Nutcracker receives a sinister steampunk twist in an engrossing retelling. Clara Stole is thrust into the magical, mechanized, war-torn dystopia of Cane with Prince Nicholas, a man cursed by faerie magic to spend his formative years as a metal statue; he's released just before Clara's own transformation into a powerful mage. Legrand's (The Year of Shadows) story is rich in fantastical realism and does not shy from themes of genocide, sexuality, and drug addiction, deftly woven together with crisp imagery and complex character development that are permeated with dualities. From the outset, Clara leads a conflicted double life, secretly training to fight and investigating her mother's murder with her Godfather Drosselmeyer, while attempting to carry on her duties as a proper lady of the house. The book's two empires, Cane and New York, are both threatened by power-hungry forces and on the brink of collapse. And at the story's core are the half-breed queen Anise and her foil Clara, magical creatures whose powers of fire and ice make for a striking contrast and complement. Ages 14–up. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/06/2014 Release date: 09/01/2014 Genre: Children's
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