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Splendors and Glooms
Laura Amy Schlitz

Kindle Edition, 1368 KB
August 28, 2012 / ISBN B0087GZ9VO
Fantasy- London early 1860's / Juvenile

Reviewed by Beth E. McKenzie

When Clara Wintermute convinces her father to hire The Phenomenal Professor Grisini and His Venetian Fantoccini to perform for her 12th birthday party it is her intention meet his two young assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. In true villainous fashion Grisini "loses" his watch and comes back after the party to find it, and Clara, on the upstairs landing. That night after she has been tucked up in bed and the household is asleep, she dresses again in her party clothes and leaves the house for an assignation. When the hue and cry is taken up the next day it is to Grisini's rooms the police are sent. They search and don't see her, but Clara is there and it is only a desperate and sick old witch who will be able to set her free.

All through this book I kept thinking, "I know this story." There was something really creepy about the puppet master showing his watch to Clara and whispering in her ear (Candy, little girl?) within the protection of her own home. The assistants reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, caged and being fattened for future festivities. Clara was the Miller's Daughter in Rumpelstiltskin, made captive based on the expectation of gold, and her parents are the various kings and queens who need heroes to bring back lost princesses. The witch was Snow White's Stepmother, the puppeteer the Big Bad Wolf and the puppets the 12 sisters who dance and dance and dance.

I finally figured out that this really is a Grimm's Fairy Tale. Not a re-telling or a story that imitates one of the traditional Germanic tales. Splendors and Glooms incorporates the elements found in the traditional tales, weaving a new and imaginative, if somewhat chilling, story of what it means to lose so much and what it takes to find what's left.

Reviewed 2012