Chloe McBride has some reservations about accepting her elderly great-aunts' invitation to spend part of the summer with them in Little Venice, but her initial reluctance is outweighed by her curiosity about the mysterious key that came with her aunts' note. She's also anxious to put the humiliating memory of a disastrous piano recital as far behind her as possible. Chloe's great-aunts tell her the legend of her great-grandfather, Dante Magnus, an ambitious magician who vanished without a trace almost a century earlier, and Chloe begins to search for clues to his disappearance. When her investigations eventually lead her to a mysterious rosewood box, which has been hidden for almost a hundred years, Chloe's belief in the power of magic forces her to confront her own fears and ambitions.
This mystery blends music, magic and self-discovery, and introduces 12-year-old Chloe McBride, who choked on her last recital, shattering her dreams of being a concert pianist. Despondent, Chloe accepts an invitation to spend several weeks with two great-aunts in Canada, intrigued by a tiny brass key enclosed with their invitation. She becomes enchanted by the stories the aunts tell of their father, a circus magician who disappeared decades ago. Chloe reads his memoir (long passages of which appear within the novel) and learns that the key her aunts sent her unlocks a rosewood box with the power to grant wishes. If she can find the box, perhaps her wishes will be granted-but each wish has its price. Readers will be able to identify with Chloe's need to get away from the scene of her humiliation, and the aunts' affection comes through in ways well-suited to each one's personality. Fantasy elements play a large part but do not overshadow the reality of Chloe's blossoming friendships and her enjoyment of the resort. Ages 9-12.