This is the third volume of the four volume "Rose" set that has been a huge hit, and it's certainly easy to understand the popularity of the series. While there are lots of young reader books out there that feature a spunky orphan heroine discovering that she has special, maybe magical, abilities, they may not really catch fire or truly engage the reader. The Rose books, though, feature a strong heroine, appealing secondary characters, tight plots, a plausible magical world, and a general good humor and energy that make them very easy to recommend.
Ms. Webb devoted a lot of energy and a big part of the beginning of the first book to introducing us to Rose and getting us invested in her progress and her success. This third volume marks a substantial step forward in Rose's transformation from a servant girl to a true Magician's Apprentice, and that progress complements the growth generally in the other favorite supporting characters, especially Rose's friend Bill.
Once the adventure begins, (we travel to Venice to recover a stolen magical mask), and Rose is called to action, the plot develops briskly and cleanly and the resolution is satisfying, if a bit pat. Since we're talking about magical kids in a book for middle graders I don't quite see the point of quibbling over plot holes.
The upshot is that this a carefully written, engaging, imaginative growing up tale with magic, a smart-mouth talking cat, suspense, a fine supporting cast and a winning and wise heroine. The charm of the first book continues through the series, which is very good news indeed. What a nice find.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of the upcoming U.S. edition of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.