The Blurb On The Back:
Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home – and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. The statues move, the books are magic and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing.
Could the mystery of the missing children by linked to the strange goings-on at Grave Hall? Lucy is determined to find out …
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
12-year-old Lucy Goodly loves her parents but they’re completely hopeless and keep gambling all of their money away. Fortunately, Lucy’s got a magic playing card (which she stole from a woman with eyes that blazed like tiny suns) that she’s used to cheat at poker games, winning enough to buy a lovely cottage in the countryside called Leafy Ridge. When she meets the cold and arrogant Lord Grave at a poker game, she’s so confident that she can beat him, that she agrees to serve as the new boot girl at Grave Hall if he wins. But the unthinkable happens – he cheats using magic – and now Lucy finds herself stuck in Grave Hall with its menagerie of exotic animals, a bearded cook called Mrs Crawley, Vonk the butler, Violet the scullery maid and the unpleasant general maid, Becky.
Lucy knows that Lord Grave is hiding something and as the Penny Dreadfuls read by Becky report on child disappearances around the country, she’s convinced that there’s a connection – she just has to find it …
Justine Windsor’s debut historical fantasy novel for children aged 9 – 12 (the first in a trilogy) is a charming tale that’s well illustrated by Becka Moor and which has a plucky main character who learns from her mistakes and is supported by a fascinating mix of supporting characters so that while there’s a lot of set-up here there’s also enough promise to make me read the next book. Lucy is a capable protagonist who loves her parents and although I wasn’t comfortable with the gambling storyline (mainly because Lucy’s essentially enabling her parents who don’t ever have to face the consequences), I admired her curiosity, her courage and the way she learned from her mistakes. I suspect that 9-year-old readers will get more from this than 12-year-olds because some of the twists are a little too foreseeable and although Amethyst and Havoc are two-dimensional villains, Havoc’s raven Nevermore, is truly chilling and there’s a lot of fun to be had from the supporting cast – especially Mrs Crawley and her experimental cooking and the snide and unpleasant Becky who constantly puts Lucy and Violet down. There’s a lot of set-up in the book in terms of Lord Graves’s backstory and a magical organisation called MAAM but with that out of the way, there’s a lot of potential in the remaining books and I’ll definitely read on.
GOODLY AND GRAVE IN A BAD CASE OF KIDNAP was released in the United Kingdom on 9th March 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.