Book Cover

The daughter of an apothecary with a sideline in iffy potions tries to use both science and sleuthing to keep her father out of trouble.

Sure (fairly sure) that the luck potion her father sells to recently arrived chocolatier Letty Kozlow is bogus, young Sasha sets out to help it along—using her detective skills to determine which of three potential beaus would make the best match for the kindly but secretive shop owner. Along the way she picks up an odd, grubby, cherubic sidekick she dubs Puck and runs into several village residents ranging from mean rich girl Sisal to aptly named Granny Yenta and her (supposedly) magic rooster. This series opener being a setup episode, Nayeri makes Sasha’s snooping and clue gathering a vehicle for introducing an ensemble with some characters, notably Puck and probably Ms. Kozlow, likely more than they seem. The world beyond the otherwise unnamed Village and a larger storyline (Sasha’s mom is currently away battling the evil Order of Disorder) are merely sketched out now but are sure to come into play later on. For now, though, the focus is localized to, considering the names, clothes, and a reference to rusalkas, a vaguely Slavic setting. In keeping with the cast’s array of types, the wide-eyed, olive-skinned figures in Mak’s frequent illustrations have a Disney-esque look.

An engaging kickoff well-stocked with vivid characters, yummy chocolates, and tantalizing hints of magic. (map) (Fantasy. 9-11)

This article originally appeared on Kirkus Reviews