A riveting, magical escapade about finding friendship and the courage to set yourself free against all odds
Kidnapped and forced to shovel coal underground, in a half-bombed power station, 12-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma keeps his head down and hopes he can earn his freedom from the evil Tabitha Margate. Then one day he discovers he can see things that others can’t. Ghostly things. A ghostly girl named Alma, who can bend the shape of clouds to her will and rides them through the night sky. With Alma’s help, Luke discovers his own innate powers and uncovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha is kidnapping children and forcing them to shovel coal. Desperate to escape, Luke teams up with Alma, his best friend Ravi, and new girl Jess. Can Luke and his friends get away before they each become victims to a cruel and sinister scheme?
Debut author Michael Mann delivers a wildly imaginative middle grade fantasy set in a smoke-stained world that’s sure to entertain readers who are eager for an adventure with paranormal superpowers.
★ “Charles Dickens, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book rolled into one. Mann creates empathy for Luke, who shows clear hope and compassion for others during this evil time. The quick-witted humor and fast pace keep the entertainment factor high. Thrilling.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ “Smartly wrought worldbuilding aptly engages with themes of identity and equity while conjuring an atmospherically gritty London that’s at once singularly inventive and reminiscent of works by Joan Aiken, Charles Dickens, and Philip Pullman. It’s a thoughtful and well-built fantasy that’s also rollicking good fun.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“A fun first novel in the vein of Obert Skye and Brian Farrey.”—Booklist
“The Dickensian hardships endured by the protagonists of this mystery-adventure will appeal to young readers . . . so, too, will the characters’ resourcefulness as they follow the clues and form alliances to combat the evil they uncover. The mild supernatural elements integrate smoothly into the alternate setting, while the idea of ‘halves’ (Luke is ‘Half-Indian. Half-detective. Half-ghost’) adds a somewhat wistful theme of identity to the rollicking action.”—The Horn Book
“This fast-paced fantasy adventure will spark the imaginations of readers who enjoy superpowers, ghosts, and the paranormal.”—School Library Connection
BISAC 1: JUV037000 Juvenile Fiction – Fantasy & Magic
BISAC 2: JUV039060 Juvenile Fiction – Social Themes – Friendship
BISAC 3: JUV058000 Juvenile Fiction – Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural