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Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Tavia is a Crook. But not for much longer. She hates the life that the rugged and bloodthirsty streets of Creije force her to lead, since she was ‘adopted’ by the city’s underboss as a child and taught to peddle magic tricks to anyone with a coin. For the orphans of Creije, there are two choices: become a Crook, or starve.

Barely more than a teenager, Wesley is the leader of the Crooks. But even he has to listen to the feared Kingpin, Dante Ashwood. Until the Kingpin’s plans threaten to destroy the city he loves, the only family Wesley knows.

With the loyal fighter Karam, and Saxony, a Crafter hiding her true magic in a city where everyone is peddling cheap tricks, the unlikely friends must work together to discover the truth. The truth of what happened to Saxony’s sister three years ago, the truth of the Kingpin’s plans, and the truth of their own pasts. Into the Crooked Place is woven intricately with secrets, few of which it relinquishes, and readers will find themselves googling the release date for its sequel following the cliffhanger on the last page.

This young adult fantasy is Alexandra Christo‘s second novel. Christo has masterfully crafted a fantasy world with a complicated past and layers of characters. Each chapter brings new revelations and the reader is constantly on the alert, making new connections and figuring out who is a traitor, and who has something to hide. It’s satisfying to connect the dots, and I found myself leaping from page to page. Christo has written her characters very cleverly, in that your favourite character at the beginning is likely to change by the end. There is more to some than meets the eye, and Wesley, who begins as a side character, quickly rises to become more. Each chapter switches to a different character’s perspective, to create a full and reactive fantasy world. Into the Crooked Place, with its alluring title, would be enjoyed by young adults fourteen years and older.

Be prepared for secrets in this book. Creije has had an interesting past – a war fifty years ago, a magic sickness – but this history is only revealed to us in bits and pieces, almost accidentally. I often found myself wanting to know more than I was told, and while this was intriguing, at times it was frustrating! By the end of the book I was still unsure about what the magic sickness was, despite it being a major focus for some of the characters. That being said, it’s a great read for those who like being tantalised and kept in suspense.

Reviewer: Susannah Whaley

Bonnier Books, RRP $22.99


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