Lucinda’s parents were killed on their way home from a party when she was just five. Sent to live with her uncle (her mother’s dead sister’s husband) and his new wife in their jewelry shop, Lucinda is treated with contempt by the aunt and made to work all hours doing menial jobs. Lucinda is resigned to her existence until one day, when a woman — Berle, the dreaded Amaranth Witch — comes in and leaves a stone to be repaired. That, and a visit in the night from Peter — a street thief whom Lucinda has never seen before and who ends up stealing the heart of this reader away — set in motion a series of events that change Lucinda’s life.
The work is not a fairy tale reworking, although it does have elements of the Cinderella story. It does, however, read and feel like a cross between a fairy tale — there is magic, though it’s not what is typically seen as such — and historical fiction. It’s not really set in a specific time in history; it just feels like it could be. It’s not a light and fluffy work; it’s a dismal ride with many twists and turns getting to the prescribed happily-ever-after, which, in the end, is satisfyingly bittersweet. It’s a strong first novel by author Berry, one that makes a reader curious to know what she’s going to come up with next.