From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 5–9—This gothic, wildly adventurous romp through the dream country of fairy tales celebrates the power of sisterhood. The Eden girls—beautiful, domestic Aurora; bold, reckless Storm; and baby Any—live at Eden End, a dilapidated estate near a rat-infested village in a setting that vaguely resembles rural Victorian England. On her deathbed, their mother bequeaths Storm a pipe, whispering "Beware of its terrible power." A year later, their grief-stricken father departs on a mysterious expedition, leaving a note that warns Aurora to be careful on her 16th birthday. Enter the mysterious, evil Dr. DeWilde. He wants the pipe. He and his ravenous wolves chase the sisters from their home and pursue them across a landscape familiar to readers of European myths, fairy tales, and fantasy. Elements of "The Pied Piper of Hamlin," "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," "The Snow Queen," and many other tales figure in the story. The breathless plot, which pulls readers into an escalating series of dangerous situations, hairbreadth escapes, bitter defeats, and surprising triumphs, is grounded in the realistic personalities of the sisters. As their relationship develops, they appeal to readers as much for their flaws as their strengths. Grey's black-and-white illustrations, interspersed with the text, advance the action. A descendant of Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Doubleday, 1963) and its sequels, this book is distinguished by a strong, descriptive style. It should have wide appeal as a family read-aloud or absorbing read-alone.—Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
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Following their mother's death and father's abandonment, Storm and her sisters are left alone. The arrival of the evil Dr. DeWilde and his retinue of wolves forces the girls to flee, running into the woods before he can locate a musical pipe given to Storm by her mother. The ensuing adventure takes the girls afar as they encounter a house of sweets, a long-lost great-grandmother, and the Pied Piper, who lures children away. Gardner's fast-paced fantasy-adventure cleverly borrows from well-known fairy tales, and astute readers will enjoy identifying the many folkloric references. The sisters are especially interesting characters--homebody Aurora is addicted to cooking and cleaning, fearless Storm is drawn to pyrotechnics and acting on impulse. The baby astounds all with her amazing vocabulary. Grey's appealing black-and-white illustrations add humor and detail to the story. This will be a popular pick, especially for fans of Jean Ferris' Once upon a Marigold (2002) or Gail Carson Levine's Princess Tales series. Kay Weisman
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