This debut novel combines a historic setting—London in 1871, with fantasy, and romance, along with traces of the Cinderella story and Oliver Twist. Sixteen-year-old Tiki, who was sent to live with her leering uncle after being orphaned, flees the lecherous man and is taken in by a family of unwanted children living together near Charing Cross. The children pick pockets to survive, and the youngest—Clara, is ill with a menacing cough.
Tiki hitches a ride on the back of a carriage to escape a man she has stolen from, then falls asleep and wakes outside a mansion. Intent on stealing some food to take home she enters the mansion and stumbles upon a ring: . . .a burnished band of rich gold, capped by an intensely red stone the color of blood. . . Deep within the heart of the stone, flames burned. The ring belongs to Queen Victoria, which means it could be worth enough money to pay for medical care for Clara and maybe even a better place to live. When Kiki steals the ring it sets off a chain of events that quickly become more than she can handle.
The ring. . .holds a truce between British and faerie courts, and keeps war at bay. But outside the protection of the royals the ring can be taken by the faeries and none of the rules that maintain peace apply. A ruthless rebel group of faeries sets out after the ring and whoever possesses it.
Also on Kiki’s heels is mysterious Reiker, another thief who know she’s up to something. He says he’s protecting her. But is he? Or is he out to get the ring, too?
—Kari Baumbach, children’s literature enthusiast
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