Vita Marlowe has travelled from England with her mother to visit her grandfather, Jack Welles in New York. Her adored grandfather hasn’t been the same since her grandmother died and now it appears he has stumbled into some serious trouble.
Vita’s grandparents have always lived in the charming, somewhat crumbling Hudson Castle but just when her Grandpa should be finding comfort in his home, he has been swindled by a con man and left homeless. The notorious Victor Sorrotore claims that he purchased Hudson Castle legitimately – albeit for $200 – however, he was helping out as the castle was in disrepair and needed a large financial injection to save it. The problem is that the title deeds are in the castle and Grandpa can’t get access to prove this isn’t the case.
Holed up in an attic apartment looking across to Carnegie Hall, Jack has become somewhat resigned to the fact that he will have to let go of the home that he shared with his late wife and all the special memories that the walls hold. He can’t find a lawyer who will take on the case for the funds they have. Yet Vita won’t let this injustice go and when she hears about a very valuable emerald necklace – set with an emerald as large as a lions eye – that is hidden in the walls of the castle, she starts to devise a plan that will get her inside, retrieve the necklace and then fund their case to get the castle back.
The elaborate plan involves Vita putting herself in the path of the dangerous Victor Sorrotore and his aggressive henchman but after turning up on his doorstep and demanding a meeting she discovers that Mr Sorrotore has been up to no-good all-over town.
Vita knows she can’t handle this alone. She needs a team of people who have a range of special skills, the most important of all being a passion for justice, even if that isn’t always black and white. Joined by Silk who has a talent for sleight of hand, Arkady who is gifted with animals, and Samuel who is such an astonishing gymnast you would be forgiven for thinking he can fly, Vita takes on the task of setting things right. Along with this team Vita has her own special talents including one for manipulation of the highest kind…
Can Vita and her loyal team manage to find the necklace or will they find more than they are looking for?
Award winning author Katherine Runndell has created an atmospheric story set in New York amongst the trees of Central Park, dark speakeasies, the grandeur of Carnegie Hall and the circus, and then the dark cellars of Hudson Castle and narrow lanes of 1920s Manhattan.
The key to this story is the heart-warming relationship between a granddaughter and her grandfather and while the plot takes us on dramatic adventure it also explores community, loyalty, family and taking control of your future.
Katherine Rundell is a consummate storyteller and her writing is in a league of its own – this is a magical read that transports you into the heart of a complex dark underworld and then puts a light on all the good that manages to shine through.
Katherine Rundell spent her childhood in Africa and Europe. After completing a degree in English and a doctorate on John Donne, she is now a full-time writer and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where she studies Renaissance literature and climbs old buildings at night. Katherine has won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award and has been shortlisted for many others. In 2017 she was selected as one of Hay Festival’s Hay30 influential young thinkers to watch.