by A.J. Hartley

This fantasy blends elements of Victorian England with the political complexities... read more

This fantasy blends elements of Victorian England with the political complexities of Apartheid South Africa in a story in which three ethnic groups—white Feldish colonialists; brown-skinned Lani people, who were brought “over the seas” to act as servants and laborers for the white colonialists; and the original, Black tribal inhabitants, the Mahweni—live together uneasily. In the capitol city of Bar-Selehm, 17-year-old Anglet Sutonga is the best steeplejack around, fixing and cleaning broken chimneys and spires high above the city. Though she left behind her Lani community and lives almost as an indentured servant, she is proud of her skill and enjoys her status in the steeplejack community. When the Beacon, an invaluable, glowing gem of luxorite goes missing and several suspicious deaths occur, including her own apprentice, a 10-year-old boy, Anglet accepts an offer to work for a young, white, opposition party politician to solve the murders and find the Beacon. As Anglet pieces the crimes and motivations together, she discovers lies, cover-ups, political machinations, and greed are all at play. With a large cast of ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse characters that defy stereotypes, the author offers an action-packed mystery as well as thoughtful commentary on the complexities of race, gender, class, and community. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

show less