A gothic masterpiece.-- Better Read Than Dead Set in seventeenth-century France--a country in the thrall of dark magic, its social fabric weakened by years of plague--Chris Womersley's City of Crows is a richly imagined and engrossing tour de force. Inspired by real-life events, it tells the story of Charlotte Picot, a young woman from the country forced to venture to the fearsome city of Paris in search of her only-remaining son, Nicolas. Fate (or coincidence) places the quick-witted charlatan Adam Lesage in her path. Lesage is newly released from the prison galleys and on the hunt for treasure, but, believing him to be a spirit she has summoned from the underworld, Charlotte enlists his help in finding her child. Charlotte and Lesage--comically ill-matched but nevertheless essential to one another--journey to Paris, then known as the City of Crows: Charlotte in search of Nicolas, and Lesage seeking a fresh start. Dazzlingly told, with humor and flair, City of Crows is a novel for readers who like their fiction atmospheric, adventurous, spine-tingling, and beautifully written. Pre-revolutionary France, with all its ribaldry, superstition, and intrigue is mesmerizing, and Charlotte Picot's story--the story of a mother in search of her lost son--holds universal appeal.