Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.
Sisters Odette and Trudchen Grey grew up believing that their mother was a monster hunter, and Od never stopped telling Tru stories of their mother's exploits, even after they were sent to live on their aunt's Oregon farm as girls. In 1909, on Tru's 15th birthday, Od returns after a two-year absence (she says she joined a circus) and insists that Tru leave with her. Tru is hesitant her leg, nearly useless after a bout with polio, slows her down but eventually it's onward to Philadelphia they go, confronting their pasts and maybe even something right out of a nightmare. The story jumps between the sisters' viewpoints, past and present, and as the truth of Od's time in the "circus" becomes clear, so does her heartbreak, and the lengths she's gone to protect her sister. Winters's captivating, poignant tale of childhood magic and the bond between sisters ends a bit neatly, but readers won't care, drawn steadily forward by the book's mysteries and by Od and Tru's resilient faith in each other. Ages 12 up.