Nineteenth-century Prague, a mystery surrounding the charismatic Puppet Master and a missing heiress is unravelled by a determined heroine.
From riches to rags, Milena is growing up in the city of Prague at the turn of the twentieth century. Her parents' once prosperous theatre lies in disrepair and her life seems to be in ruins, and has been since that fateful night her father died in a tragic accident and Milena's beautiful, talented Mother went missing. No trace of her has been found. But Milena has never lost hope that she will come back.
The day she meets the flamboyant Puppet Master and his menacing prot g s, the twins Zdenko and Zdenka, under the shadow of Prague's famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town square is, coincidentally, the date of her mother's birthday. And it's the day Milena's grandmother chooses to reveal to her the story of her ancestors... and of her legacy. Or perhaps it's not such a coincidence.
Joanne Owen's debut novel skilfully mingles the legends of Bohemia in a story rich in the traditions of circus, theatre and magic, all set in a city waiting to lay bare a myriad of secrets.
Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2009 and the Carnegie Medal.