Starred Review, School Library Journal, October, 2011:
Verity Gallant, 12, has always been the odd one out–the plain, dark-haired child overlooked in favor of her pretty, talented younger sister, Poppy. Her life changes dramatically after she receives an old book from an exotic stranger whom she sees in her local library. It tells the legends of the Mistress of the Storm, a being who commands obedience and terrifies all who cross her. Suddenly, the girls’ never-before-seen step-grandmother appears, taking over Verity’s room and taking an immediate dislike to the child. New friends Henry and Martha help Verity deal with the cruel woman and try to make sense of the stories she reads. As she begins to understand the many secrets about her family and the truths that are hidden in the book, she realizes that her life is in danger and that she needs to find strength and courage to save her parents and sister. An action-packed conclusion brings answers to many questions and offers a new beginning. Welsh has created a moving and gripping fantasy that will keep readers guessing and a cast of characters that moves beyond stereotypes and expectations, including a variety of helpful grown-ups. Verity is a sympathetic and engaging heroine, and readers will appreciate her friendships and relationship with Poppy, who becomes more sympathetic and supportive as the story evolves. Verity’s grandmother is a threatening, looming presence, and her meek parents add a touch of humor. Fantasy fans will enjoy discovering along with Verity that behind everyday small-town life is a world that offers hidden magic–and not-so-hidden danger.–Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
From the Hardcover edition.