Let the rollicking, suspenseful adventure begin!


A shadowy, otherworldly character named Coal, purveyor of mega-evil designs, tries to accelerate war declaration in 1914 Europe through a poisoning plot. His plans are inadvertently upset by a young serving girl, Adi, in a café. Exacting revenge, Coal makes a deadly bargain with the unsuspecting Adi by kidnapping her young twin brothers and bestowing her with a pocket watch embedded with obscure riddles that could lead her to the boys’ discovery. Can Adi figure out the clues within the assigned deadline? Let the rollicking, suspenseful adventure begin! Meanwhile, war unfolds across the land. Intrepid and steadfast, Adi acquires helpful allies along the way, all vivid characters in their own rights. At one point during her almost impossible journey, she disguises herself as a French soldier and witnesses the gore of battle as a medic’s assistant. An imaginative telling of lives upended by war, this is an elegant fable with a layered-puzzle setup. Best for historical-fiction fans who like a little magic realism and mystery in their stories.

— Anne O’Malley