In Rose's third adventure, the evil sorcerer that tried to steal Princess Jane has managed to carry off a Venetian mask that was on display in the palace. Mr. Fountain is very worried, because the mask is a powerful magical artifact. When the king sends him off to Venice to investigate the theft, Rose, Freddie and Bella travel with him. Rose is thrilled with the chance to see the world since she has never been outside London, and the thought of the canals and gondolas seems like something from a fairy tale. But when she and Bella take a walk outside the British embassy and are attacked by a gang of ruffians, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a wonderful place. With the help of Gus and the faithful Bill, the children do their best to uncover what Gossamer and Venn are plotting and whether the Doge of Venice is involved or just another of the sorcerer's victims.
Rose's magical abilities and personality are revealed in more depth with each story in the series. Her humble beginnings at the orphanage keep her grounded and sensible in a way that the children born into the elite magical families are not. As she struggles to learn as Mr. Fountain's apprentice, she also tries to maintain her friendships with the other servants in the household (other than the odious Susan). Rose is such a lovable character that we can't help but cheer for her triumphs.
LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR A FREE COPY OF ROSE AND THE MAGICIAN'S MASK (by midnight September 18, 2014). In the meantime, you can always read (or re-read) Rose's first two adventures.
Rose, the orphaned ward and apprentice of magician Aloysius Fountain, is deep in trouble again. This time she has been assigned as a companion/bodyguard for the darling of the kingdom, Princess Jane. There has already been one magical attempt to kidnap the princess from the palace and the king wants Rose to help protect his daughter from further harm. The whole realm is under attack from some form of ice magic that is causing a bitterly cold winter, there are envoys from the emperor of Talish visiting the court, and Rose's fellow servants all look at her suspiciously now that they know she can do magic. Can things get any more complicated?
I enjoy the practical way Rose looks at life. It seems simple to her - she was taken from the orphanage to serve as a maid in Mr. Fountain's household and she was glad to be employed and able to earn wages and support herself. When her magical abilities were discovered, she looked on them as another set of skills she could use to earn a living. She doesn't have the spoiled outlook of wealthy children born into privilege or a family with a history of magic and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Sensible, hard-working heroines are admirable and likable. I look forward to future adventures with Rose
This was a book with lots of good features. There is the basic story of an orphan being taken from the orphanage to serve as a maid in a wealthy household. The master of the house is an alchemist, so there is magic to make things exciting. Then there is the mystery of children disappearing from the neighborhood. And the character of Rose is a very likable girl. She works hard, has realistic plans for her life, and is loyal to her friends (old and new). Rose's relationships with other members of the household demonstrate her courage and generosity - whether she is saving the alchemist's apprentice, Freddie, from an experiment that's gone out of control, or helping her fellow servant, Bill, polish the chandelier - Rose always tries her best. She will need all her courage and determination to save the missing children before it is too late.
The story balances humor with danger and keeps pulling you along to see what will happen next. You find yourself admiring how Gustavus the cat has everyone treating him like royalty, or wondering what new tantrum the alchemist's daughter, Isabella, will pull. I had to laugh at how the matrons in the orphanage "were convinced that the orphans' morals would be forever destroyed if they so much as breathed the same air as a boy." If you like stories of magic and mystery, then you should give this one a try.
If Holly's name sounds familiar, it is probably because you have seen some of her other books.