When twelve-year-old Fungus dons a metal glove that can open any lock, he’ll use it to free his mother from her abductors. But no clever inventor or daring ship’s captain can save him from gold-masked ghosts that make entire ships disappear. The glove may be the key to unlocking all these mysteries, but only if he learns to use it before it claims his life. THE BLACKTHORN KEY meets MOBY DICK.
Francis Kard insisted everyone call him Fungus. It’s not that he loved the name. He didn’t. It reminded him of the putrid slime he sloughed off the soup at the Dossington House for Orphan boys. But Fungus was more than a nickname. When his mum finally came back she’d find hundreds of boys named “Francis” in this city, but only one “Fungus”—the boy she left stuck like a barnacle on a pier seven years ago.
“Alchemy is the transformation of matter,” a plump priest droned at the front of the classroom, resting his hands on his ample belly.
Fungus focused past him, to the mechanism on the wall—a rag hooked onto a lever and a series of pulleys and ropes. He had spent months building that machine, and now it hobbled across the board erasing chalk-drawn scribbles about transforming lead into gold—an invention alchemists had spent years trying to create.
Compared to marvels like that, his chalkboard eraser could have been made by a baby. It wasn’t even the kind of invention that could land him an apprenticeship. That didn’t matter though—there weren’t a lot of chalkboards where he was going. Just hot sun, endless waves, and a life of indentured servitude. But he could endure all that—as long as his ship didn’t disappear at sea. Like the others.