When a mysterious piece of jewelry and a strange visitor arrive in the jewelry shop where she works for her evil aunt, Lucinda's course takes a surprising turn. With the help of the Amaranth Witch, a young (and harmless) con-artist, and a prince, Lucinda uncovers secrets about her own royal past. A strong seller in hardcover, this original fairytale marks an exciting debut from a lyrical new voice
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Julie Berry grew up in western New York. She holds a BS in communications from Rensselaer and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College. She now lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and four young sons, and works as a director of software sales and marketing for a technology startup. This is her first book.
Intriguing characters, fine plotting, and a richly worked narrative carry the reader into Lucinda’s vaguely medieval world. Orphaned as a small child when her wealthy parents were killed in a carriage accident, Lucinda has grown to the age of 15 as the maidservant in her goldsmith uncle’s home, suffering abuse at the hands of his wife. Life changes quickly for Lucinda after her uncle dies when she attempts to complete an errand to return a strange glowing stone to a woman locally known as the Amaranth Witch. A street thief, the local Prince Charming, a goat with the manners of a loving dog, and an evil chief justice are among the characters who complicate and enrich Lucinda’s life as she discovers her own past and the otherworldliness of Beryl, the amaranth lady. Tamora Pierce fans will particularly appreciate Berry’s smoothly rendered first novel, where magic and historically accurate courtly rites are balanced with Lucinda’s maturing sense of independence, fate, and self. Grades 6-8. --Francisca Goldsmith
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