The Little Shop of Found Things
Xanthe Westlake is an antique dealer with a unique gift. Sometimes, when the young woman cups an object in her hands, it “sings” to her, revealing its connection with past owners. She and her mother Flora are seeking items for their newly-purchased antique shop in Marlborough, England when Xanthe’s fingers are all but burned by a Victorian chatelaine. The little silver purse has several household items attached to it by chains; some of them far older than the purse. Spurred by a sense of doom and a vision of an ominous, tangled woodland, Xanthe spends far more than she intends to obtain that chatelaine.
Thus begins The Little Shop of Found Things, a charming time-slip historical fantasy by Paula Brackston. An ancient stone jail in the antique shop’s overgrown garden proves a doorway to 1605, and Xanthe’s chatelaine proves the key. Xanthe’s knowledge of the 17th century is crucial to her survival when she is plunged into a mystery – why did some parts of the chatelaine not travel through time with her? Who is the girl Xanthe heard weeping in the dank cell? And what help can Xanthe give to Margaret Merton, the scar-faced ghost who confronts Xanthe in the tiny jail?
Ms. Brackston skillfully provides readers with a neat mystery-within-a-mystery, stuffed with historical details which place us in the scene, and a steady pace which keeps us reading. Xanthe is a winning, realistic heroine, with a promising future in a new series proposed by Ms. Brackston. Thumbs up for The Little Shop of Found Things!