Fifteen-year-old Mariah Mundi is on his way from the boarding school where he's spent most of his life to a seaside hotel called the Prince Regent. His parents are missing, presumed dead, and now he is to be employed by the hotel as assistant to the magician who performs there. But Mariah learns that every other boy who's held that position has mysteriously disappeared.
And so Mariah's adventures begin in the strange old hotel perched on a cliff by the edge of the sea. He encounters the feisty Sacha, a girl his age who fills him in on the oddities of the hotel, including the steam-powered elevators and the mysterious caverns beneath the building. Mariah discovers clues left by the previous magician's assistant, and soon he learns that there is a diabolical plot afoot that has Mariah slated to disappear, too. In his search for the truth, he encounters a creepy doll that seems to move about on its own, magical objects that offer glimpses into the future, hidden rooms, lifelike waxworks, and nightmarish creatures with a taste for human flesh.
This is the first book I've read by G.P. Taylor, and I'm already planning on reading his earlier book, Shadowmancer, because I enjoyed this one very much. The evocative Victorian setting was a perfect backdrop for this taut tale, full of twists and turns and sudden revelations. Mariah and Sacha make an interesting pair whose strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and the villainous characters are quirky and interesting. It appears that this may be the first book in a series, and if so, I'll definitely be on board to follow the further adventures of Mariah Mundi.
The Midas Box: Mariah Mundi by G.P. Taylor (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007)
Also reviewed at:
A Walk in the Dark Woods