“The Star of Kazan” by Eva Ibbotson
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Summary from Goodreads:
Annika has never had a birthday. Instead she celebrates her Found Day, the day a housemaid and a cook to three eccentric Viennese professors found her and took her home. There, Annika has made a happy life in the servants’ quarters, surrounded with friends, including the elderly woman next door who regales Annika with stories of her performing days and her countless admirers – especially the Russian count who gave her the legendary emerald, the Star of Kazan. And yet, Annika still dreams of finding her true mother. But when a glamorous stranger arrives claiming to be Annika’s mother, and whisks her away to a crumbling, spooky castle, Annika discovers that all is not as it seems in her newfound home…
I picked this book up knowing absolutely nothing about it. I was scrounging the tables at a library book sale, glanced briefly at the summary, and threw it in my bag because it sounded vaguely interesting. I had no idea how much of a treat I was in for! This book is incredibly charming and sweet. Not sickeningly sweet. More like comfortable and familiar sweet.
A New York Times blub on the cover of my book compares the Frances Hodgson Burnett’s work. I’ve only read one of her books, The Secret Garden, but I absolutely agree! This definitely has the same charming tone. The Star of Kazan has feisty girls, large manors, loveable servants, and great friends. How can you not love that? Though this is a “children’s book” I feel it’s good for all ages. It’s not “childish” like how some kid’s books can be. The magic is still there for adults.
Ibbotson is able to paint a beautiful picture with her story. She’s able to make you love (and care for) many of the characters. I almost felt like they were old friends. There was just something that was so incredibly comforting in reading this story. It’s like a nice big hug from a friend. You can’t help but love it. I knew how the mystery was going to play out but that didn’t stop me from wanting to continue on this lovely journey.
The bottom line? This book is just screaming to become your newest comfort read.