When the Royal Pearl is stolen from the Palace, Eliza's foster father becomes the main suspect. The police assume the verse left behind is the thief's calling card, but Eliza believes it may be a riddle. The two embark on an adventure to clear his name, where Eliza proves to him just how resourceful a twelve-year-old-girl can be.
This first installment in the Kindled Embers series is a historical mystery following precocious Eliza, 12, who is accustomed to drama in the 19th-century court of King Christian VIII. When rumors of an arranged marriage for her friend Prince Anders arise, however—accompanied by the theft of a royal treasure by a shrouded figure who calls themselves the Nightin-gale—Eliza, her recently returned benefactor Jonas, and their ally Louise must figure out how to recover the jewel and clear their names, as well as assist Anders in his plight. Lavish palace settings are among Simos’s strengths, as well as dry humor that may appeal to older readers. While some elements of the realm and culture feel derivative, memorable characters and heartwarming scenes between Eliza, Jonas, and Louise offer much to enjoy in this energetically paced homage to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Unsolved subplots may frustrate, but fans of cheeky period pieces such as Enola Holmes will enjoy the ride. Ages 8–12. (Self-published)