Zinnie is fiercely protective of Sadie and Nell, her sisters. Their home in Old Edinburgh is dark, dirty and underground but Zinnie is proud of it. At least she’s been able to keep her family together. She doesn’t believe the talk in the Close about the ghost.
“Can’t stay down there no more. Not with that spirit abroad. Vicious, she is. Evil.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, who is currently a medical student at the Royal Infirmary, pays Zinnie to do jobs for him. He is currently investigating a mystery that not even the local authorities have been able to solve.
“More subterfuge? How perfectly wonderful!”
I loved Zinnie. She’s headstrong, resilient and intelligent. Her loyalty to her sisters and ingenuity in finding ways to provide for them impressed me. She’s the kind of person you want on your side. I didn’t feel like I got to know Zinnie’s sisters, Sadie and Nell, that well. Although I know facts about each of them, this was really Zinnie’s story.
Along the way, Zinnie meets an explorer and doctor who are both intelligent, independent and female. I really liked the inclusion of women who were very much ahead of their time.
I’m not usually much of a fan of the inclusion of historical figures in fiction so I was initially hesitant when I encountered Arthur Conan Doyle. The author’s historical note at the end of the book helped me correlate some elements of his character with his life. I found the information about Doctor Sophia Jex-Blake particularly interesting, as I hadn’t heard of her before.
With a “terrible, cruel man” with cronies, a tortoise named Algernon, curiosities from around the world and mysteries to solve, including ’the Mystery of the Severed Ears’, this book went in a different direction than I was expecting. The prologue had me anticipating supernatural spookiness; however, the focus was more on solving mysteries and the importance of family and being there for the ones we love.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Stripes Publishing, an imprint of Little Tiger Group, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Zinnie and her sisters live in the murky tunnels beneath Edinburgh’s Old Town. They keep out of the way of the authorities and remain undetected. Until, that is, rumours of a ghost bring unwanted visitors into the caverns they call home. Among them, a young Arthur Conan Doyle, keen to investigate, and MacDuff, the shady owner of Edinburgh’s newest attraction, the House of Wonders.
Caught up in a world of intrigue and adventure, Zinnie seeks answers. But how can she discover what secrets lie in the House of Wonders while also protecting the sisters she holds so dear?