Have you ever played that game where someone hides an object under a cup and then moves three or four upended cups and you try to keep track so you can locate the cup with the object after all the twists and turns? This book reminded me of this game. Liesl's father has died in very suspicious circumstances and after cremation his ashes are stored in an old box. Mr Gray "The Atelier of gray. Body Disposal, corpses, animal and human parts (since 1885)", of has run out of urns and since the rich widow Mrs Morbower has paid him so well Mr Gray has had to sacrifice his mother's old wooden jewelry box. Meanwhile the alchemist has made his greatest magic. He has entrusted is lowly apprentice Will to carry it to Lady Premiere. The magic has been placed in wooden box about the size of a loaf of bread. Finally, in a remote farm house, someone has stored some potato flour in another wooden box. Three boxes that will change hands and alter the destiny of all involved.
Liesl has been locked in the attic of her home ever since her stepmother, Mrs Morbower, conspired to murder her husband and claim the family fortune. Two ghosts called Po and Bundle have come from the other side to visit Liesl. Po is enchanted by Liesl's lovely drawings. Liesl asks Po to find her father and later Po delivers an important message :
"He said that he should never have eaten the soup, ... He said that he must go home. He must go back to the place of the willow tree. He said that he will be able to rest then. He said you would bring him there."
And so Liesl, Po, Bundle and Will get caught up in a race to take the ashes to the Willow Tree chased by Augusta Morbower, Lady Premiere, an old lady they meet on a train who has decided these children are criminals and a policeman. Also caught up in the chase is the warm-hearted guard from Lady Premiere's gate house who has decided Will is badly in need of a warm hat.
If you are having trouble keeping up with all of these twists and turns take a look at the book web site. I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end and I read it all in just one sitting. Here is a great review and the trailer from the publisher. If you enjoy this book look for The Truth about Verity Sparks as your next choice.