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Set during the French Revolution, Gardner's (I, Coriander) epic and tautly plotted tale engages readers from the start with its combination of romance and history, mystery and magic. Yann Magoza, an orphan, travels with entertainers who use supernatural powers in their act; Yann himself can read minds. As the novel opens, Yann and his companions are brought to a marquis's chateau, where Yann has a brief but fateful meeting with the foolish and cruel marquis's brave daughter, Sidonie, and where the marquis's associate, a scheming count, brutally but cleverly murders one of the magicians. The pace retains this thrilling momentum all the way through the heart-stopping climax. As Gardner slowly discloses Yann's and Sido's heritages, she ratchets up tension about the marquis's and the count's plans for Sido. She lards her story with intriguing details, like the red garnet necklaces left like signatures with a series of murder victims, and "threads of light" that make Yann's magic possible. The novel also paints vivid, convincing pictures of the Revolution: characters glimpse the massed thousands of Parisian women marching to Versailles, pitchforks in hand, demanding bread, and mobs setting upon suspected aristocrats. Suspenseful, complex and haunting. Ages 12-up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.