cover image The Hidden Knife

The Hidden Knife

Melissa Marr. Penguin/Paulsen, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-51852-5

Following a complicated series of events involving her mother’s career as guard to manipulative Queen Evangeline, 12-year-old Victoria Wardrop, a powerful warder capable of working magic through both athames and sword, is sent to the Corvus School for the Artfully Inclined, where she hopes to learn enough to address her past. There, she meets Algernon Nightshade, son of the Queen’s alchemist, who dreads the day he’ll have to murder and replace his father, and street thief Milan, who sees the school as an unexpected route to stability and success. As the three form a tentative alliance, they also wrestle with their respective family legacies and discover that all is not right at the Hogwarts-esque school. Filled with ley lines and animate gargoyles, Marr’s (Pretty Broken Things) engaging fantasy is primed for magic and mystery, but it feels more like an extended, jam-packed introduction than a full, fleshed-out arc. While the story line can feel unfocused, promising characters and intrigue-laced history suggest more to come. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (June) [/em]