From the publisher: At first Tally doesn’t want to go to the boarding school called Delderton. But she soon discovers that it is a wonderful place where freedom and self-expression are valued. Tally organizes a ragtag dance troupe so the school can participate in an international folk dancing festival in Bergania in the summer of 1939. There she befriends Karil, the crown prince, who would love nothing more than to have ordinary friends and attend a school like Delderton. When Karil’s father is assassinated, it is up to Tally and her friends to help Karil escape the Nazis and the bleak future he has inherited.
Charles Dickens published David Copperfield in 1850, at the zenith of his writing career. I imagine readers, gasping in the wake of that brilliant book, were just a little disappointed with subsequent works (ever heard of The Uncommercial Traveller?). No doubt it's an entertaining story, but it's written after David Copperfield. 19th century readers were pumped about Another Dickens!! Only to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens, but just okay Dickens.
Fast forward 150 years. In 2004, Eva Ibbotson published The Star of Kazan, pretty much the best children's novel of the 21st century (in my opinion). Her previous--and popular--novels never hinted at the genius waiting in the wings. The Star of Kazan was amazing. But it was also, it seems, Ibbotson's zenith production. (Well, the woman's in her eighties, for goodness sake!)
I enjoyed listening to The Dragonfly Pool. It reminded me of her other non-fantasy, Journey to the River Sea ... light and tasty. But missing from Ibbotson's latest--and perhaps last--contribution to the literary world is the depth, the gorgeous inter-connection, the brilliant casting that leaves readers of The Star of Kazan feeling satisfied to the very tips of their toes.
UPDATE: STOP THE PRESSES!