by Katherine Marsh
Disney Hyperion, 2016. Fiction. 273 p.
Mary is an orphan who is adopted by a kindly old lady, Madam Z. For the first time since her family's death Mary has someone who seems to care about her. Her new guardian lives in a village full of fake practitioners of magic, but as time goes by Mary begins to wonder if some of the magic might be real. She also wonders if Madam Z is as harmless as she seems. Luckily Mary has a new friend in town, the son of a two-bit magician, and together they make plans to find out what is really going on.
This new fantasy is full of references to Slavic folktales, including Baba Yaga, Koschei, the Firebird, a Domovoi and others. Mary is a likable character, intelligent, brave and kind. Madam Z is also a complicated character and, as in the traditional stories, the reader doesn't know if she is good or evil. This is a great choice for middle grade readers who are looking for something that is exciting, interesting, and just a little scary. This book is available from the library in print and as an audio download.