Stolen Sherlock

The Replica has been stolen! Without it in place, Zertrum Mountain will erupt, covering Lahnt and the surrounding countryside with lava! Will Elodie find the thief and return the Replica to its place before it’s too late?

So goes one summary of Gail Carson Levine’s Stolen Magic. Levine, who became famous for Ella Enchanted many years ago, is a master of her trade and cannot be praised highly enough. She excels at age-appropriate middle-grade stories with high stakes–stories which are as compelling to those of us who have been with her since Ella as they are for those who are just joining her now. She never dumbs down her vocabulary or her plot, and Stolen Magic is no exception.

Our heroine is Elodie, a “mansioner” (actress) turned dragon’s assistant turned detective. She represents a John Watson of sorts, and is indentured to Masteress Meenore (a genderless dragon), who fills the role of Sherlock Holmes. Meenore is “cranky but benevolent,” likable despite IT’s foibles. They stumble upon crisis while traveling with Count Jonty Um, a shapeshifting ogre who is highly principled and kindly to a fault. What ensues is a delightful locked-door mystery in a fairytale setting–one that encourages readers to be as observant as the detective. All of the suspects are equally plausible as culprits, and the slow dissemination of information is suspenseful, never dull. In short, this story belongs on Levine’s long list of successes.

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