Petra K and the Blackhearts take readers to a Prague-like city where miniaturized show-dragons are pitted against each other in secret, forbidden tournaments, and magic has been outlawed by a cruel child dictator. Here lives Petra K, the daughter of a shut-in mother, who becomes the master of a dragonka everyone wants to get their hands on. In a complicated world of sorceresses, Gypsies, child gangs, and secret police, Petra K needs to decide whom to trust, and whom to betray in order to keep herself and her pet safe. But revolution is in the air, and she too is caught up in its pull. Only the Blackhearts, a gang of orphan children, dare to defy the new dictator's rule, selling potions to survive. Along with the Blackhearts, Petra K faces a murderous pack of mechanical dragonka, a phantom secret agent—and, most harrowing, her own weaknesses.
M. Henderson Ellis, the author of Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Café (New Europe Books), is a graduate of Bennington College and a Chicago native who currently lives in Budapest, Hungary.
"Ellis's ... years living in Eastern Europe give this steampunk fantasy, first in a planned trilogy, a strong sense of place and an unerring ear for the newspeak of totalitarianism. Archibald the Precious, a child dictator known to the Youth Groups that revere him as the 'Number One Play Pal,' takes the reins in Pava, the crumbling city-state in which Petra K lives... . Ellis's pacing and plotting abilities show considerable gifts as Petra draws closer to the secret of Archibald's power." —Publishers Weekly
"A breathless ... adventure pits a poor, fatherless girl against all sides in a battle for a dragon's heart and a city's freedom... . Meticulously imagined, Petra's city is built on ancient layers of cultures and traditions, with magic woven into its fabric... .[A] remarkable and distinctive offering for devoted fantasy fans." —Kirkus Reviews
"This marks the first in a series aimed to reinvigorate the 'Old World,' and its strength lies in its sense of place, as Pava's twisting alleyways have the feel of ancient Venice, where any shadow might conceal a thief or a bit of magic... . [F]or readers looking for a light mystery with a dash of fantasy, this book will open the door to an imaginative world." —BooklistOnline.com