cover image The Door by the Staircase

The Door by the Staircase

Katherine Marsh, read by Laural Merlington. Dreamscape Media, , unabridged, 6 CDs, 7.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-1-68262-803-4

In Edgar Award–winning Marsh’s new fantasy for children, 12-year-old orphan Mary Hayes is ecstatic when elderly and eccentric Madame Z whisks her from the horrific Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies and immediately treats her to delicious food and a soft bed in a her wonderful home, which is within walking distance of the village of Iris, a destination for faux masters of the dark arts (illusionists, fortune tellers, and others of that ilk). The mood changes rapidly when Mary is told that her patroness is really Baba Yaga, a witch straight out of Russian folklore who feeds children and then feeds on them. Reader Merlington has a warm storyteller’s delivery for much of this ultracharming yarn, but it can quickly switch to a cackling but kind, Russian-accented voice when Madame Z is talking to Mary. When the real black magic begins, Merlington uses a cold, nasal, cruel voice for the monstrous villain who threatens to destroy Mary and the enchanted home that she had longed for her whole life. Ages 9–12. A Disney-Hyperion hardcover. (Jan.)