1. A Tangled Family

It was his own grandmother who fed Henri-Pierre to the Cabinet of Earths, long ago when he was only four. Don’t misunderstand! It happened like this:

They were dark and cold, the first days of 1944 in Paris, and between the winter and the war, everything was bad. There was never quite enough to eat, and the rooms they lived in were never really warm, but when the electric lights winked out, Henri-Pierre and his grandmother lit a candle and huddled around its friendly yellow glow, feeling almost comfortable despite everything.

“Hands are for making things,” she told him. Her own were slim and nimble and had magic in them that could turn an odd end of wood into anything you asked for: a tiger, a salamander, a tiny ship with paper sails. Once upon a time those hands had helped make the Cabinet, and the Cabinet was maybe the most beautiful thing in the world, with the mysterious bottles glimmering behind its glass front.

“What do we keep in our bottles, little one? she asked him sometimes, and he would make the wrongest of guesses, just to hear her laugh: “Lemonade! Water! Tea!”

“Not in our bottles,” his grandmother would say (their own private joke), and she would lean forward and whisper the secret into his ear:

“In our bottles we keep Time.”

So Henri-Pierre knew what Time must look like: black grains of earth, straining like something hungry against the bottle glass.

Excerpt copyright © 2012 Anne Nesbet


About the book:

On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Maya’s own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes–nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya? With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family tree–grandmothers who walked in magic, a cousin so unremarkable she’s actually hard to see, and a terrible family habit of betraying one’s brother. To save her own brother, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.

What people are saying:

“A-shimmer with magic”–Horn Book

“Charmingly creepy”–Kirkus

“Evocative prose and a confident narrative voice”–Publishers Weekly

“Readers will be swept along by the novel’s swift pace”–Shelf Awareness

“A unique, interesting fantasy with just enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages into the night”–VOYA

“Reading this book is like discovering a treasure box full of rare and wonderful things. If you open it, you’ll find a brave and good-hearted girl hero, the mysterious streets of Paris, and a magical cabinet full of life itself. The writing is luminous and absolutely compelling. It’s the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time.”–Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief

Released: January 3, 2011

About the author:

Anne Nesbet teaches film and Russian literature at the University of California, Berkeley.  She lives near San Francisco with her husband, several daughters, and one irrepressible dog. You can visit her at www.annenesbet.com.