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*Starred Review* Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913. Milford weaves a lot of strands into this tale. The most prominent involves the town's resident ancient bluesman, who is said to have had a run-in with the devil ages ago, and 13-year-old heroine Natalie, whose latent powers as a sort of seer are awakened when Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show arrives in town. She just knows that there's something more sinister at work than the typical hucksterism of snake-oil salesmen, and the plot soon encompasses everything from the original fall of Lucifer to the Jack tales of classic American folklore. This is not light reading, as readers will have to pay close attention to keep track of the large (but excellently drawn) cast of characters and detailed, but hardly belaboured, descriptions of mechanical contraptions, bolstered by an array of fine-lined illustrations that enhance the already vivid and cinematic read. Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Reviews

A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book"This is one of those books that's a delight from start to finish, quirky but grounded, with characters you'll fall in love with. While I wish Natalie Minks had been my kid sister so I could have gone off to have adventures with her, this is the next best thing." --Charles de Lint, author of The Blue Girl, Dingo, and Little (Grrl) Lost* "Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between." --Booklist, starred review"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting." --Publishers Weekly"This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil."--Kirkus Reviews A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book"This is one of those books that s a delight from start to finish, quirky but grounded, with characters you'll fall in love with. While I wish Natalie Minks had been my kid sister so I could have gone off to have adventures with her, this is the next best thing." Charles de Lint, author of "The Blue Girl, Dingo, " and "Little (Grrl) Lost"* "Both impressive and ambitious, Milford s first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between." "Booklist," starred review"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford s detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting." "Publishers Weekly""This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil." "Kirkus Reviews"" A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book "This is one of those books that s a delight from start to finish, quirky but grounded, with characters you'll fall in love with. While I wish Natalie Minks had been my kid sister so I could have gone off to have adventures with her, this is the next best thing." Charles de Lint, author of "The Blue Girl, Dingo, " and "Little (Grrl) Lost" * "Both impressive and ambitious, Milford s first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between." "Booklist," starred review "The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford s detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting." "Publishers Weekly" "This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil." "Kirkus Reviews"" A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book"Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913...Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between."--"Booklist", starred review"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered through the heavy curtains, startling shapes began to resolve themselves into familiar objects. Seeing them clearly didn't make her like them any better")."--"Publishers Weekly""This unusual story, with elements of folklore, tall tales and steampunk, has rich details of small-town America in the early 20th century as well as the impact of budding technology. Natalie is a well-drawn protagonist with sturdy supporting characters around her. The tension built into the solidly constructed plot is complemented by themes that explore the literal and metaphorical role of crossroads and that thin line between good and evil."--"Kirkus Reviews" A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book "Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913...Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between."--"Booklist," starred review "The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered through the heavy curtains, startling shapes began to resolve themselves into familiar objects. Seein A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book "Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's steampunk novel of the same name (though there is just the barest whiff of steampunk here), this historical fantasy uses the classic devil-at-the-crossroads motif as the foundation for an elaborate and intricate gearwork story set in the little town of Arcane, Missouri, in 1913...Both impressive and ambitious, Milford's first novel rarely overreaches as it lays out an eerie and atmospheric vision of early-twentieth-century Americana, electrified by supernatural traces and a generously complex look at good, evil, and the wide swath in between."--"Booklist", starred review"The tale is shrouded in mystery and explores themes of gaining confidence and recognizing evil, and Milford's detail-rich prose makes it all the more haunting ("In the gaslight and what morning sun that filtered throug

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