Author: Smith, Ronald L.
Thirteen-year-old Jess and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists--until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London's supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 192575
|Reading Counts Information:
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.80
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 69185
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (01/17)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2017 With Britain in the thralls of Spiritualism, thirteen-year-old Jessamine and her mother make bank by delivering messages from beyond to wealthy families looking to contact their dead loved ones. It’s all smoke and mirrors until she and her mother actually do receive a ghostly message, and suddenly Jess is swept off to London, where she meets a former colleague of her deceased father who informs her that she has inherited her father’s mesmerist powers and that the evil that he gave his life to defeat is back. Now it’s Jess’ turn to fight the ghouls that are stoking hatred and bringing death throughout London. Jess joins Emily, who has powers of her own, and Gabriel, an angel, in searching out a powerful necromancer and preventing him from continuing to spread a deadly illness. Too many elements clash here, muddying the plot and the setting: the original message Jess receives is the nursery rhyme “Ring around the Rosy” and the evil manifests in an spreading illness that looks much like the bubonic plague, but there’s no evidence that book or characters has ever heard of the historic plague, and the nursery rhyme is awkwardly employed. Fairies and a werewolf also make appearances to help Jess save the day, but the ending is unsatisfying-the villain is disposed of, but there’s no indication that the plague has stopped, leaving a pretty significant part of the plot unresolved. Still, Smith (author of Hoodoo, BCCB 10/15) has a knack for creating memorable bad guys, and the demonic necromancer and his minion ghouls may be creepy enough to spur readers forward. KQG - Copyright 2017 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 01/01/2017 Jess is living an unconventional life in Victorian England with her mother, who dupes clients as a supposed spiritualist. But on the day Jess receives a real and threatening supernatural message, her mother whisks her to London, where she meets Balthazar, who, she learns, fought such evil with her parents. The evil entity—“M”—who has been contacted was, in fact, the cause of her father’s death. Balthazar inducts Jess into the League of Ravens, joining his other wards, Emily and Gabriel, who each have their own powers. Now, Jess too might fight to stop the horror M has planned. Both the innocuous cover and the title may draw readers who aren’t expecting something as graphic as this is. That M is trying to blame Jews, gypsies, and other “undesirables” for the epidemic he plans needs much more explanation; indeed, the whole book could use more connective tissue as it often skims the surface. But the writing is solid, and for kids who relish some blood and gore, this should fill the slot. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.