cover image The Pearl Thief

The Pearl Thief

Elizabeth Wein. Hyperion, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4847-1716-5

In 1938, Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart, 15, returns from boarding school for one last idyllic summer at her late grandfather’s Scottish estate, which has been sold to pay his medical bills. Her plans are upended when she’s assaulted near the river where she and her grandfather harvested mussels for their pearls. Rescued by tinkers who worked her family’s estate for centuries, Julia awakens with no memory of who knocked her unconscious and is startled to learn that a scholar hired to catalogue the estate’s antiquities is missing. Julia enlists the tinkers, Euan and Ellen McEwen, to help unravel what’s happened, partly to ensure that discrimination against the tinkers doesn’t result in their arrest for crimes they didn’t commit. Each thread of this novel is exquisitely woven; Wein is a deft plotter—the complex narrative is paced like a mystery—and vivid Scottish slang adds humor and texture. It isn’t necessary to have read Code Name Verity to enjoy this prequel, but readers who fell in love with Julia the spy will appreciate learning about where she first discovered what it means to be a friend. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (May)