Score: Very good
Rating: PG for mystery murder
In 1924, Japanese student Kujo is sent abroad to study in the tiny country of Sauvure, nestled between France and Italy (don’t look for it on maps). There he meets Victorique, a little girl locked in a tower. Though a little spoiled she’s a brilliant detective, and Kujo quickly becomes her Watson. When grudgingly called on by the police, she uses Holmes-like insight to eliminate the impossible and elide the elementary.
It’s hard to describe everything that’s going on in this series. First you have the cases, some of them intriguing and some really quite creepy. You have a gradual romance between Kujo and Victorique, which is thankfully not overplayed. You have the secrets of Victorique’s past, which are wrapped up with the history of the country and with a hidden conflict between forces trying to control not just its government but also its heart. And rising all across Europe you have the growing threat of a second world war.
It’s interesting that this isn’t a world in which magic is real – several of Victorique’s cases involve revealing the mundane tricks behind the seemingly impossible – but it’s still a world where magic has a very real effect on the people who believe in it, on rulers and the public.