I've loved everything I've read of Gaie Sebold's so far, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this (except the usual excuse: too many books; too little time). I loved it, though I didn't think I was going to at first. It took me a few chapters to get into it, possibly because of the Holmforth chapters as he's not a sympathetic character (which becomes obvious later, so that's OK). Once I read more about Evvie I was hooked. Eveline Duchen is a sparrow, one of the flocks of unnoticeable London children doing what she has to do to survive. She's part of a thieving gang (all girls) run by Ma Pether, a benign Fagin-type character. When she attracts the attention of government man, Mr. Holmforth she's not sure why he insists on sending her to a school for spies, but it's an education of sorts, though not always a comfortable one. Holmforth, however, wants her for her special skills in Etheric Magic. Unfortunately she doesn't have any. Eveline is a great character. Once she gets the opportunity she soaks up knowledge like a sponge (particularly languages). Despite her rough upbringing she looks after those she considers to be hers and thinks her way through problems, aided by Chinese enigma, Liu, and school friend, Beth. Highly recommended.