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Splendors and Glooms

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  6,005 ratings  ·  1,034 reviews
The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Candlewick (first published January 1st 2012)
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Farella I also got the same book titled Fire Spell but underneath it was 'or Splendor and Gloom' so I think you're right.
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Community Reviews

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Special K
I must admit, I am pretty shocked at all the good reviews and high ratings I'm seeing for this book.

So no one else felt that this story just dragged on and on, and that you had to just force yourself to bite the bullet and finish it? And no one else felt disappointed with the skimpy plot and the pages and pages of useless should-have-been-edited-out-stuff about putting on slippers and walking dogs and such? Did anyone raise an eyebrow at the scary (for kids) imagery of witches burning alive, or
The Rusty Key
Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: Ages 10 to 12 for explicit violence against children, overt suggestion of adult sexuality and alcoholism, and overall macabre tone. The third person narrative is split between two female characters and one male character, but though the male character is sufficiently boyish, the preciousness of the Victorian Gothic genre is likely better suited to girls.

One Word Summary: Dreary.

As an exercise in genre replication, Splendors and Glo
4.5 Stars.

Any reader who has found themselves enraptured by the world of Charles Dickons will be happy to surround themselves with a similar beauty and grime in the aptly titled Splendors and Glooms. Laura Amy Schlitz utilizes her fantastical prose to steep us in the wonders of a Victorian child’s world. Children have the capacity to believe in anything, and they feel everything so acutely–such is the shape of the magic in this story.

Three children brought together through a set of unfortunate c
My good sense, what little I have, tells me this was a solid story. My enjoyment sense tells me this was long and boring, despite a capable narrator.
I'm torn on how I feel about this book.

I think it was too much - too many narratives, too many players, too many paths. It rides the line between middle grade and young adult levels so some of the potential depth is lost, especially among the more adult themes. A lot happened throughout this story and I felt much of it was unnecessary.

I liked:
-The c
Simply put, this book is a gift. Laura Amy Schlitz gives and gives and gives with this novel, and she somehow makes every sentence, word, and detail completely necessary and completely perfect. That's kind of a massive accomplishment for a nearly 400-page story.

If someone ever asks me why I read children's books I won't say anything- I'll just hand them a copy of "The Graveyard Book" and "Splendors and Glooms."

Like most great art, this will be really devisive. Readers who like short and succinct
Barb Middleton
"I think I can. I think I can." This little engine that could is chugging through the 2013 Newbery Medal list mentioned in a previous post. My non-picky appetite seems to stack the most recently devoured book on the top of the pile making it number one for my own personal list. Argh! My top 5 are pretty much interchangeable. So many terrific books! Glad I'm not judging the "most distinguished" book of the year... Right now I'm guessing: Splendors and Glooms, Crow, Starry River of the Sky, and Th ...more
Do you remember that moment in the film version of The Princess Bride where the grandfather is trying to convince his stubborn grandson that the book he's about to read is fantastic? He lures the kid in by saying the book contains, "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles." If I had a kid standing in front me right now looking at Splendors and Glooms with equal suspicion I would probably tell them that the book has a witch, an evil puppet maste ...more
Jim Erekson
This is tricky. I've been reading so many picturebooks that I had to shift gears to rate a novel. Why? Because I spent so much more time on this book that I want to rate it higher. Just because I read it and liked it, I want to say I "really" liked it. But truth be told, I don't know how many people I'll go out and recommend: "You're going to need to read this book." Again, a five would have to be beyond 'recommendable' and into the 'must have' and 'will re-read' category, and a four would have ...more
The year is 1860, and a young Clara Wintermute is looking forward to her twelfth birthday party, in which a puppeteer is coming to create a magical puppet show for Clara and her friends. While the puppet show will be enchanting, Clara is more excited to see the two children who help with the puppet show. They are unlike anyone Clara has ever met, and she actually feels like they genuinely like her, unlike her other friends. For Clara is a very lonely little girl, and it feels as if the ghosts of ...more
Rachael Stein
I've been having the darnedest time figuring out how to review Splendors and Glooms. I first read it back in June, I think. I gave it five stars, mentally filed it away as My Favorite Book So Far This Year, and planned to reread and review it later. I reread it this month - still great.

Here's the thing, though: I'm kind of a fangirl for Laura Amy Schlitz. She is by far my favorite author writing for children right now. I find that it can be difficult, however, to explain her genius to those who
Splendors and Glooms is the type of book I wish I'd written. Set in Victorian England, rife with orphans and evil puppeters, mystery and magic, the story tells the tale of Clara, a rich girl whose supposedly easy life is not so easy at all, and Parsefall and Lizzie Rose, orphan apprentices to a puppeter who is more than he seems. The past of the puppeter and his connection to a witch named Cassandra and an intriguing stone called a fire opal draw the children into a web of treachery and evil mag ...more
While this book is too dense for my personal tastes, the writing is excellent with no missteps. Every character is fascinating--even the ones who seemed like they were going to be stock figures at first (that is, most or all of the adults). Nicely atmospheric of London, the English countryside, AND Venice. This isn't a particularly talky or intellectual book and probably has a wider potential audience than it would seem. It certainly has a well-earned shot at the Newbery, but is not, frankly, a ...more
Set in Victorian London in 1860, Fire Spell will appeal to young readers with a penchant for magical adventure and fantasy. Clara Wintermute comes from a wealthy but rather melancholy family, not surprising given that all her siblings were wiped out by cholera. She longs for some excitement in her life and this comes in the shape of the puppeteer, Grisini, a Fagin-like character and his young urchin assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall (the Artful Dodger?). Unfortunately, in true Victorian melo ...more
When Clara Wintermute invites puppeteer children Lizzie Rose and Parsefall to perform at her 12th birthday, their master, Grisini, kidnaps her, turning her into a puppet the children take to the stately home of a witch, Madama Cassandra, who wants one of the children to steal her cursed jewel.

You have to admire those names.
I savored this book for both its elegant language and its masterful construction--focusing on one character and then another just as if THEY were the puppets (indeed, Parsef
Hmmmm. I'm just not sure how I felt about this one. It was taking me a while to get into it, and then I realized it's the kind of book you need to read in long sittings, not in 20 minute spurts like I was trying to do on my lunch breaks or before bed. Once I realized that, once I gave myself time to get lost in the gloom and setting, it was really gripping and I wanted to know what happened. I started to really be interested in the characters and the magic of the world. But, I still didn't love ...more
Lu Benke
Death, temptation, religion--they are all in here. But the charm of the book for me was in the puppetry-related scenes and the descriptions of the settings. I'm no longer a big fan of fantasy where all things are possible and the deus ex machina reigns supreme, but the magical elements in this book are actually minimal. It is more a story about the characters. The book decidedly got more interesting to me when Cassandra came on the scene. She's the witch, but she is more like a not-nice-yet-stil ...more
I enjoyed reading this suspense-filled tale of magic and mystery set in 1860 London and Strachan's Ghyll in 1861. While it takes awhile for all the connections among the characters to be revealed, I appreciated being given the time to figure out what each one's secret was. This is one of those books in which it's hard to decide which person is most evil: Cassandra the witch or her archnemesis, the puppet master. Clearly, the author has more sympathy for Cassandra since she reveals aspects of the ...more
Christy B
I was sort of sad when I finished this. I just loved the world, and the characters, and the magic, that I really was caught up in it.

Young Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are the assistants of the master puppeteer Gaspare Grisini. When a little girl goes missing the night after they've entertained for her birthday party, everything is thrown into turmoil, and decades old secrets are revealed.

The story is set in early 1860s England, and is a fabulously weaved story of historical fantasy. People of all
Uncovering Gaspare Grisini's criminal past linked to the 12 year old Clara Wintermute's capture and transformation into a puppet, the only way to break the curse is to steal a rare gem called a fire opal. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, learning the danger, gets lured to live with Gaspare's arch-nemesis, Cassandra Sagredo's trap which is designed to steal the fire opal causing burning death to anyone who inherits it.

Parsefall, a fairly mischievous boy with a tragic past, is a dark, scared, and a myst
May 29, 2014 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Skin Hunger or the Bartimous series
Shelves: fantasy
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are apprentices of a cruel puppet-master, Grisini. They are mistreated and miserable, but they have one bright afternoon--teatime with a little lonely rich girl. Then Clara goes missing and they are suspected of kidnapping her. When Grisini disappears as well, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall follow to find him in the home of a mysterious old woman. Cassandra has powerful sorceries, and the choice she offers the children could save them from Grisini's torments--or doom them fo ...more
The Royal ME
3.75 stars

Surprisingly good! I wasn't expecting to like this, but I did.
Laura Amy Schlitz follows up her 2008 Newbery Medal for Good Masters, Sweet Ladies!, with this intriguing Gothic story of three children who become caught between feuding magicians in Victorian London. Clara—the wealthy and sheltered young lady with a tragic secret—meets Parsefall and Lizzie Rose—assistants to a talented but evil puppeteer—when they come to perform at Clara’s birthday party. When Clara disappears that very night, suspicion falls on the puppeteer, but as the police search unsucce ...more
Clara Wintermute dreams of escaping her unhappy home life where she’s been stifled by being in mourning for the past seven years. The only thing she has to look forward to is a puppet show during her birthday party where The Phenomenal Professor Grisini and His Venetian Fantoccini will perform. Grisini is accompanied by his two apprentices—the saccharine Lizzie Rose and the urchin Parsefall. It is London in 1860 and the two orphans would rather work tirelessly under the cruel Grisini than being ...more
Inizio con il dire che Laura Amy Schlitz appartiene a quel piccolo gruppo di autori per ragazzi che scrive meglio del novanta percento dei suoi colleghi, quindi il commento va preso in quest’ottica. Chiarito questo, Splendors and Glooms è un buon romanzo, ma a mio avviso ha un potenziale inespresso. I primi capitoli sono avvincenti, ma creano aspettative che vengono in parte disattese. È come se l’autrice, dopo aver creato una storia avvincente, abbia voluto fare marcia indietro. Per rientrare n ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Splendors and Glooms was one of those books I read because I felt like I had to. It was written by Newberry Award winning author Laura Amy Schlitz and I like her stuff. I don not like Victorian Fantasy though, and those words were being thrown about enough in conjunction with this book to make me groan. I think it would be more accurate to call this a fantasy that has a Victorian setting. When I think Victorian Fantasy I think Alic in Wonderla
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
3.75 out of 5 stars

Splendors and Glooms is a hard beast for me to categorize upon finishing; it's labelled most commonly as middle grade, and while some elements certainly come across that way, others are far more mature and advanced than usually seen for that genre. It's a dark, detailed and very Gothic tale of two orphans at the whims of two very unpleasant and unscrupulous people. For all that Splendors and Glooms talks a big game and my initial enjoyment (and apprehension! Kids trapped in do

A book about puppets. Not your usual read. I didn't really think about what I was going to get myself into with this book. I only really remembered reading the summary and coming away with puppets and a witch so I was sold. Who gets to read about puppeteers ever? I enjoyed the concept of the puppets way more than I expected. It made the story original but as I was reading it and gasping at a particular part in the book I realized how original it was. It re
Splendors and Glooms invites you into a world where magic exists, a world where children die and a world where children live. Schlitz’s masterpiece is a darker novel than one would usually expect of novels seemingly targeted at middle grade audiences. However, the richness of the detail, the complexity of the world ensures that Splendors and Glooms will be enjoyed by adults and older readers than just middle graders.

What must it be like to live in a house that is in perpetual mourning? What is i
When Clara Wintermute asks to have "The Phenomenal professor Grisini and His Venetian Fantoccini" perform for her birthday she is surprised and exhilarated when her father reluctantly agrees. Not only will the puppet show be exciting, but she knows Grisini will bring along his two apprentices who she hopes to befriend during tea before her party guests arrive. Lizzie Rose, the girl, is gracious, and Parsefall, the boy, is impatient, but Clara is thrilled to have companionship that usually eludes ...more
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz blends Victorian gothic and fantasy adventure in a blend of dark comedy, scorching magic, and brilliant, bewitching storytelling.

Schlitz takes a witch, a lonely rich child, two orphans, and a puppet master, characters that could easily become two dimensional, and creates a gripping story. Adding the drunken, dog loving land-lady and two parents gripped by tragedy adds elements of humor and deep sadness. Of the two dark characters, Cassandra the witch see
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Children's Books: An Honor book from 2013 - November 2016 5 16 Jun 07, 2015 10:34AM  
Enjoyed! 2 8 Jan 07, 2014 02:35PM  
Mock Newbery 2016: October Read - Splendors and Glooms 17 163 Jan 01, 2013 06:03PM  
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Laura Amy Schlitz has spent most of her life as a librarian and professional storyteller. She is currently a librarian at the Park School in Baltimore, where she has worked since 1991. She is a winner of the 2008 John Newbery award for her book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies!

Ms. Schlitz lives in the Loch Hill section of Baltimore County. She is single with no children.

She has also been a playwright,
More about Laura Amy Schlitz...
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village A Drowned Maiden's Hair The Night Fairy The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy

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“You know how it is. Someone pretends to love you, and you give too much away.” 14 likes
“Dr. Wintermute beheld Mrs. Pinchbeck befeathered, beribboned, crinolined, corseted, frizzled, and festooned, though not wasted.” 3 likes
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