cover image The Dark Lord Clementine

The Dark Lord Clementine

Sarah Jean Horwitz. Algonquin, $17.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61620-894-3

“Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose.” With her opening sentence, Horwitz (the Carmer and Grit series) primes readers to expect the unexpected—and delivers. After Clementine notices that something is “chipping away” at her parent, the fearsome Dark Lord, he corrects her: “Not. Chipping....Whittling.” Such droll wordplay punctuates the labyrinthine narrative, which reveals that the Dark Lord has been cursed by his archnemesis, the Whittle Witch, who carves a wooden-doll replica of her victims and reduces them down to nothing. Horwitz’s ingenuity for bizarre enchantment and characterization proves boundless: Clementine’s confidantes include a boy transfigured into a witty black sheep, a paper chicken that morphed from the family spell book, an amorphous snow figure who protects the area, and a huntress searching for a powerful unicorn. Anchoring the tale are the sensitive girl’s conflicted feelings about inheriting the Dark Lord title, since she prefers flowers over weeds and spells that involve sunshine rather than darkness. In a wry, satisfying ending, Clementine hints at future enchantments ahead. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Agency. (Oct.) [/em]