by T. Kingfisher
Rosa Mandolini knows in her heart that her family are the greatest painters of magical illuminations in the city. But the eccentric Studio Mandolini has fallen on hard times and the future is no longer certain. While trying to help her family, Rosa discovers a strange magical box protected by a painted crow. But when she finds a way to open the box, she accidentally releases the Scarling, a vicious monster determined to destroy the Mandolini family at any cost.
With the aid of her former best friend and a painted crow named Payne, it’s up to Rosa to stop the Scarling before it unmakes the magical paintings that keep the city running, and hopefully save her family in the process!
I adored this. Rosa is young and hopeful that she can find a way to help her financially struggling family. We meet her charming and eccentric family members, her best friend in a currently strained friendship, and a magical crow made of enchanted paint. I loved the unique and supportive relationships within her family. Rosa and her best friend are learning to cope with the fact that they’re both growing up and will be competing for work with one another soon. They have to figure out how to balance their jealousy with their feeling proud of one another’s accomplishments.
The majority of the story takes place within Rosa’s home, but for a small setting there is no shortage of excitement. Magical paintings open up a lot of possibilities for both problems and solutions. I loved this magic system and the struggle between Rosa and her family’s magic against the Scarling. I liked learning about the Scarling, what it is and why it’s doing the things it’s doing. Plus, there’s an animal companion that isn’t exactly a real animal. A crow painting come to life added a lot of interest and some humor.
A fun fantasy suitable for all ages, I definitely recommend this.