Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Madeleine Roux
Illustrator: Iris Compiet
Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition
Louisa tells fortunes for pennies—it's how she gets by while living alone on the streets. While on her way to find some supper, an old crone turns her pennies into gold coins. Louisa is overjoyed. Dinner is now a sure thing. But when she tries to buy four meat pies with the gold coins, the baker accuses her of being a thief. The crone helps her hide and offers her a job as a maid. With a noose literally dangling in front of her nose, Louisa accepts the offer. They drive to Coldthistle House, where mysteries and mayhem overtake her good and bad intentions. Louisa learns more about herself, the world, and human nature than anyone really wants to know.
The writing of this novel is compelling. It is a page turner with plenty of mystery and great drama. The story's downfall is the gore and demonic theme. Louisa's character is hard to connect with or cheer for. Her constant desire to steal, cheat, and lie subvert her desire to rescue the only innocent in the story, which makes it difficult to be sympathetic to her plight and desire to escape. The plot centers around the primary mission of Coldthistle House, which is to bring about the demise of all guests who enter therein. Led by the Devil himself, this small team of murderers seeks to eliminate the villains who pass through their doors. The plot lacks conclusion and leaves several threads loose, one assumes to leave room for a sequel. This is an entertaining read for those who like lots of villains and blood, but not suggested for the squeamish or sane.
*Contains severe violence.