The wishing bones by Michelle Lovric
Orion Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781444009972.
(Ages 14+) Recommended. A magical and mysterious adventure novel that follows a young orphan named Lily who has been raised in a cruel and lonesome convent at the inhumane hands of the badessa. Upon accidentally setting the convent aflame, Lily is sent to work in the Hotel of What You Want. Here she meets Ivo Peruch, the hotel's mysterious Boy-of-All-Trades who is cold and tight-lipped and makes her an accomplice in a dark act before she realises what she is partaking in. As the dark secrets of the hotel come to her attention, Lily's desperation to leave is only exacerbated with the arrival of a new guest, Deidre 'Darling' Dearworthy, who has a direct connection to the dark act still haunting Lily. As Darling quickly becomes Lily's first and best friend, she will do anything to keep her from suffering a deadly fate at the hands of the Signorina, the manager of the hotel. After the bones of Saint Lucy are stolen, Lily, Ivo and Darling band together to save Venice; facing countless dangers and adventures and meeting some magical allies along the way.
Lovric creates a vivid and historically detailed Venice with rich characters that provide a powerful message to the reader that you are not your past and that you can still be a good person if you've done things you regret. A powerful ode to resilience and the importance of the family that you make for yourself. It should be noted that this book is very grim and dark at times, with warnings for substantial themes of death, grief, loss, murder, supernatural themes and graphic discussion of dismemberment. Recommended for children aged 14+ for these reasons.