Study Guide

Splendors and Glooms

By Laura Amy Schlitz

Splendors and Glooms Introduction

If you're anything like us, when you see that shiny Newbery Honor sticker on the front cover of a book, you just know it's going to be an enthralling, deliciously well-written book. And for fans of creepy, fantastical tales, Laura Amy Schlitz's 2012 Splendors and Glooms majorly delivers, taking readers on a journey through 19th-century London, where everything is covered in a dense fog and evil magicians lurk in the streets.

At the center of the story are three plucky children—Clara Wintermute, Lizzie Rose Fawr, and Parsefall Hooke. They seem to come from entirely different worlds, but they all have one thing in common: They've suffered loss and death in their young lives, and this has made them harder (and braver) than a lot of other children their age.

When the evil magician Grisini turns Clara Wintermute into a puppet in order to hold her hostage for ransom, his apprentices Lizzie Rose and Parsefall suspect him right away—and decide they can't just let this horrible thing happen to another kid, even if they're terrified that Grisini will turn his dark magic on them.

Even though a lot of the storyline is bleak (the magic-wielding adults are rather horrid), there's still that sense of magic and wonder that is reminiscent of the Harry Potter and Narnia series. This is definitely the kind of read that transports readers to a fantastical and super strange world.

Splendors and Glooms is the perfect book to read on a stormy night in an old, creaky building. Grisini may frighten you into hiding under the covers, but with heroes and heroines like Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall, you won't be terrified for long. So cozy up in front of a roaring fire, whip up a mug of hot chocolate, and crack open this book. You'll soon find yourself sucked into a chilling and magical tale.

What is Splendors and Glooms About and Why Should I Care?

Who doesn't love the idea of people overcoming adversity no matter how many annoying and terrible obstacles stand in their way? The three main characters in Splendors and Glooms—Clara Wintermute, Lizzie Rose Fawr, and Parsefall Hooke—are all children who are in dire need of some saving. So, get ready to root for some underdogs.

Clara Wintermute's four siblings are all dead, plus she ends up getting kidnapped by the evil magician Grisini, who turns her into a puppet. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are both poor orphans who often go hungry and are compelled to do whatever Grisini wishes because he'll kill them if they don't. All three of them get sucked into a tangled web of greed and power when Grisini's old mentor—Cassandra Sagredo—summons them to her home in order to pawn off the cursed phoenix-stone on one of the children.

Despite all of the things working against them, the children never give into despair or evil. Instead, they work hard to fight against Grisini and Cassandra's wishes—even though these are two terrifying adults who both have a lot of magical power. In the end, the children win and prove that goodness can overcome evil. How can you not get behind a story with that kind of satisfying resolution?

Splendors and Glooms Resources


Penguin Random House Presents
The official website for Splendors and Glooms sings the book's praises, obviously focusing on that nifty Newbery Honor that the book received in 2013.

Your Next Beach Read
Want to pick up your own copy of Splendors and Glooms? Click on through, and you'll have it on your doorstep in no time.

Articles and Interviews

A Throwback to Dickens
According to The New York Times, the foggy, filthy London setting for Splendors and Glooms is definitely reminiscent of another well-known British writer, Charles Dickens.

A Long Process
Laura Amy Schlitz says that writing Splendors and Glooms nearly killed her. She started it in 2005 and took almost a decade to finish the book.

When asked if winning the Newbery has changed her life in any drastic way, Laura Amy Schlitz admits that she works fewer days as a school librarian … and that she no longer attends staff meetings.


Straight From the Source
Laura Amy Schlitz is interviewed after receiving a Newbery Honor and talks about why she's drawn into historical fiction.

A Little Glimpse
This fan-made book trailer certainly captures the deliciously creepy feel of Splendors and Glooms, along with the grimy Victorian setting.


Listen Up
If you'd rather get the full-on, creepy bedtime-story experience of Splendors and Glooms, you can get it as an audiobook.


Ready for something pretty spooky? Check out the cover of Splendors and Glooms, which features two children eerily strung up as puppets.

Meet and Greet
Without further ado, we present the one and only Laura Amy Schlitz.