Aurelia Bon has a very special gift.
can see history
with her fingers
Aurelia has only to place her
hands on the wall of an old palace
‐ and vivid scenes of its past
play out in her mind.
It’s as if she lifts the lid of
an ancient dolls house
to find all the dolls alive inside.
Aurelia has all Venice captivated with her discoveries.
She’s become a celebrity doing the very thing she loves best.
But everything Aurelia cares about
is now in danger.
It’s 1763, and Venice is drowning.
Rain has fallen for seventy days without pause.
‐ the air, the light,
the Venetians themselves.
The rain never stops.
Whole palaces are
A lamp-boy disappears
in mysterious circumstances ...
... joining other young Venetians
gone missing over the centuries,
always near the grim building
‘The Palace that Eats Boys’ ...
... where a wild sweet voice
sings at night ‐
songs no-one has ever heard before
in a tongue that nobody knows.
And lately secretive organisation called I Fedeli is draining the city of money,
promising a safe new world for all Venetians.
A rival historian has sinister designs on Aurelia’s history fingers:
literally on her fingers.
Aurelia’s mother plots an ambitious betrothal to a loathsome Fedeli son –
that means the end of Aurelia’s history‐fingering, for what noble boy would
want a fiancée more famous than himself?
While Aurelia’s hopes are slowly crushed,
the waters keep rising.
Meanwhile, on the northern edge of the city,
signs appear on the marble chest of Signor Rioba,
a glowering statue.
Those signs warn of
dishonour, disaster and death.
This is not the time when Aurelia
needs to find that her only friend,
Valerio ‐ the printers’ clever apprentice
‐ is behaving oddly.
But it’s almost as if there’s
a stranger inside his body ...
Who ‐ or what?
‐ has cursed
Venice and her children?
And when Aurelia’s history fingers touch
‘The Palace that Eats Boys’,
she discovers a secret that seems
too strange to be true.
And yet it’s personal, too ...
She’s forced to understand that
there are more worlds than one,
more than one kind of time
and more than one kind of truth ...
and that there’s more than just Venetians
or even human beings living in
‘The Palace that Eats Boys’.
It seems that the present troubles of Venice
have their origin centuries ago.
And Aurelia herself is destined to pay for the sins of her ancestor,
the handsome merchant of mirrors, Aurelio Bon,
who stole the heart of a dangerous Arabian Djinnir named Ghazalah.
Will that revenge be extracted in boiling date‐honey
or in the claws of the Djinnir’s pet leopard Muzipul?
If it were not for
and for one young,
disgraced naval officer
named Angelo Emo,
the future would look
entirely bleak for Aurelia,
and for Venice.
For lurking behind the cascades of rain,
waits a new and savage enemy
foretold by an ancient prophecy
in which Aurelia and Valerio themselves
have crucial roles to play ...
The Water’s Daughter by Michelle Lovric
Published by Orion Children’s Books
July 9th 2020
The photographs are the work of David Winston.
Please see his beautiful website.
The image of the hand: Sir Gervas Powell Glyn, 6th Bart.: radiograph of his hand. Photograph by Sir G.P. Glyn, 1896 courtesy of Wellcome Images; leopard etching also from Wellcome Images.
Dollhouse of Petronella Ortman by Jacob Appel, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam; image of ‘Aurelia’: Galerie des Modes, 1778 (Plate 45, detail); ANGELO EMO K. PATRIZIO VENETO COMMANDANTE SUPREMO DELLA FLOTTA VENETA CAVALIERE E PROCURATORE DI SAN MARCO NELLA SPEDIZIONE MILITARE AL REGNO DI TUNISI NELLO ANNO 1785‐1786 ‐ both courtesy of Wikimedia Commons