Rose is an orphan found abandoned in a fish basket. She was taken from the orphanage to work at Mr. Fountain’s as a maid. There she learned she had magic and has been made an apprentice and is studying magic and etiquette with the formidable Miss Fell. She is happy, but she wonders about the family that left her. Did they share her magic? Why did they leave her? Are any of them still alive? Searching for the answers leads to discoveries about her heritage, but also to danger. Fortunately, she has good friends to help her out. Freddie, Bella, and Gus help her to think about which magic to use and how to use it and staunchly go exploring when needed.
Holly Webb has created a version of nineteenth century Europe where magic works. Although she never explicitly spells out the rules, there is an evident clear foundation and set of rules behind what happens. There are also signs that magic has altered the course of events—this is not our world with magic, this is a world like ours might be if magic were added to the possibilities in life. Webb also does an excellent job of portraying the family dynamics in the group, especially in one where “family” has had some unexpected additions; the friendship, the minor jealousies, and the underlying care are all there. The plot is well-paced, keeping the reader hooked.
Webb gets special mention because one of the characters is a cat. I have a weakness for talking cats, and Gus, who is himself magical, is an excellent example of the breed. He guides Rose and cares for her—but he also expects plenty of praise and tasty rewards for his work.
Although Rose and the Silver Ghost is the fourth book in the Rose series, it is easy to read it as a standalone. Webb expertly works in any knowledge the reader needs. It is likely, though that those readers are going to want to read the first three books afterward because they will be absorbed in Rose’s world.
Rose and the Silver Ghost is recommended for readers from eight and up who enjoy tales of magic, suspense, and friendship with a touch of the scary thrown in.
Rose and the Silver Ghost comes out in the U.S. on March 3, 2015. If you’re not sure you want to buy the book, try your local library–even if they don’t have it now, they might order it if you ask (Librarians are always willing to talk about books).