464p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442465985; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442466005. LC 2013019385.
Gr 9 Up—Legrand's YA debut is set in two worlds in 1899: New York City and the magical world of Cane, a country of humans, mages, and faeries. Seventeen-year-old Clara Stole's mother, Hope, dies a gruesome death, leaving Clara and her family grief-stricken and at a loss. The teen is determined to uncover who was responsible for her mother's murder. Clara uncovers photos of her mother's body with markings on it matching those on the statue in her godfather's shop. Does he know who killed Hope? There was a curse placed on the statue that Godfather breaks, and the statue becomes human. Godfather and Clara fight the magical creatures that come for Nicholas, the former statue, but they take Clara's father instead. She and Nicholas enter a magical door into Cane and the quest to find him begins. In the process of finding her father, Clara gains courage and learns who she is and what she is capable of. Readers will appreciate the in-depth character development and the action-packed pace in this stand-alone novel. The connection between the two world isn't very cohesive, but teens won't mind. In this unique retelling of The Nutcracker, the author weaves the original story and characters together seamlessly with a rich setting and spins a romantic and dark new tale.—Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA
When her father, mayor of NYC in 1889, is kidnapped, Clara follows into a violent parallel world. Handsome deposed prince Nicholas--freed from imprisonment inside a statue--accompanies her. Clara's level head, self-defense training (by her godfather Drosselmeyer), and latent magical abilities serve her well, especially in interactions with beguiling-but-insane new queen Anise. This "Nutcracker"-inspired fantasy tells a gritty tale all its own.

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