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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
Niclas is a boy from the poor side of Laburnum and a minor member of the infamous Bowler Gang that controls the south side end of the city. When he is arrested and locked in a torture chamber for stealing, he is certain he is doomed. Then a strange talking cat comes to his rescue and helps him escape punishment. In exchange for the feline’s help, Niclas had to work for him; a job he quickly accepted since going back to the gang wasn’t an option. On orders, the clueless boy is told to fetch a rare book from the library that Balthazar needs. Upon searching the library for this relic, he bumps into Cassandra, a girl who helps him find what he needs. The plan goes south when he immediately finds that she has duped him and taken the book for herself. Meanwhile, Balthazar is desperate to have the Zolnomicon in his possession to turn back into human form. Around this time, a stranger comes to the city, looking for traces of black science being used. From his informant, he is told of the strange things occurring in Laburnum. One of these is the odd robberies of corpses that have been deceased for weeks, ruling out the medical school. Will Niclas find Cassandra and get the book back for his cat master, or will the human and feline be caught by this witch hunter?
I found Widdershins by Alex Alexander a fascinating and fun read. Immediately while reading you get that Victorian England era vibe to the story, only this isn’t England, and witchcraft is considered dark science. The characters are very appealing and easy to follow and like. Niclas is an unintelligent, yet relatable character. He has that innocent Oliver Twist feel to him, with the exception that he ends up being taken care of and hired by a cat! Meanwhile, Balthazar makes for a mysterious character as you read. We know he once was a human that was turned into a cat, but the details of why keep the reader’s attention as the story continues on. Then we are introduced to the mysterious witch hunter who may be looking for Balthazar and his human servant, or for something else altogether. Finally, we have Cassandra, who is a unique character with a royal background. Stealing the Zolnomicon for herself and taking it to the palace makes you wonder what consequences that action alone can trigger. Overall, I found Widdershins an amazing mystery/adventure, and I am eager to read more works by Alex Alexander in the future.