This was another young adult (I’d place this in the 9-13 year old age range) title that made its way into my review pile. Something about its description, and yes, its cover, kept tempting me.
It centers around a group of young teens who are assigned to do a historical art project. Two of the class pick the same Renaissance artist, il Corvo, and are studying his work at Blackhope Tower when the adventure begins. The heroine’s step-brother accidentally finds the secret to the labyrinth mosaic and ends up inside the painting. Sunni goes in after him, along with her classmate, followed closely by an art historian. The group encounters enchanted mazes, hidden layers, puzzles, maps and coded languages. They must find a way out of the painting, and protect il Corvo’s secret.
It’s fairly adventurous, with plenty of captures and escapes. But there is no gore or intense violence so it is still age appropriate. The characters learn and discuss a great deal about art and therefore impart a great deal on to the reader. One will learn about underpainting, sketches, murals, chiaroscuro, and other techniques.
On the other hand, some of the “intrigue” is a bit convoluted. Crosses, double-crossed, disappearances, etc. almost need a scorecard to keep track of, and some don’t have a clear motive. I wondered if it might be difficult for a young person to follow.
It’s certainly a much better book for young people to read than most of the vampire tripe out there. At least with this title they can see characters which determination, spunk and intelligence.
Many thanks to the folks at Candlewick Press for the review copy.
ISBN-10 / ISBN-13: 0763656941 / 9780763656942
on sale date: 08/2011
type/format: Hard Cover
# of pages/size: 304 / 5 1/8″ x 7 5/8″