A Bitter Magic


A dark, fantasy-filled tale of one girl's journey to find her mother. Along the way, she crosses the line between illusion and magic—and between magic and miracle.

Everything is in place: the packed theatre, the Amazing Thummel—illusionist extraordinaire—and center stage, the magician's mysterious assistant. Some say she’s the most beautiful woman in Europe.

Then, in a swirl of light, she vanishes.

All that remain are her bloodstained scarf and her daughter, Cisley, who lives in her uncle's floating castle. Each day at dawn, Cisley walks her pet lobster on a golden leash by the sea and searches for clues to her mother’s disappearance.

Add a rambunctious boy named Cole, shifting labyrinths, a closet of whispering ball gowns, and a supernatural sense of smell as Cisley discovers her way to the darkest of family secrets—a black rose.

  • Kansas Notable Book Award (2016)


"Plenty of magic, a touch of romance, an appealing heroine, and a talking lobster lighten Townley's tale of deadly sibling jealousy."—KIRKUS REVIEWS

 “A magical adventure with a fascinating setting that will please middle graders looking for spooky fantasy.”— SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Cisley is an immensely likable heroine who will attract readers.” — BOOKLIST