The Disappearing Duchess

"A thrilling magical mystery set in a re-imagined Renaissance Venice"
The Disappearing Duchess – picture

A thrilling magical mystery set in a re-imagined Renaissance Venice

Twelve-year-old Bianca feels like the luckiest girl in Venice. She’s apprenticed to the most famous painter in the world – Annunzio di Lombardi – and she’s learning all the tricks of the trade in the most glamorous and powerful place in the city: the Duchess’s Palace. But one night disaster strikes. Bianca’s beloved Lombardi is given a poisoned cup of wine at a party, and collapses – but not before giving Bianca a magical paintbrush, which allows her to travel through hidden doorways throughout the city. Bianca will have to use all of her pluck, courage and cunning to find out who tried to hurt her master – and to discover what is wrong with the Duchess, who is behaving very strangely indeed…

THE LAST APPRENTICE is a delightful and exciting mystery perfect for middle-grade readers looking for feisty heroines, sinister baddies and a good dash of magic and suspense.

Publication Date:
ISBN Paperback: 9781471401831
ISBN Ebook: 9781471401848



Imogen Rossi

Imogen Rossi grew up in London but her favourite place in the world is Venice during the Carnival. She spent most of her summer holidays in Italy where she passed the time doodling and writing stories. She loves to paint, though she isn't very good at it, and she sings in a choir. She most enjoys stories involving mystery, magic and time travel. She has a collection of Venetian carnival masks and two cats named Leonardo and Michelangelo (Lenny and Mike for short).


Duchess Catriona stood at the back of the room with Baron da Russo, a wide smile on her face. The crowd sighed with pleasure and dipped their heads at the sight of their Duchess. Di Lombardi gasped, too, and choked on his wine. He looked from the painting to the Duchess, and carried on coughing. The glass of wine tumbled from his hand as he clutched at his throat and chest. 'Master? Master!' Bianca tried to push through the crowd to di Lombardi's side. Through the shifting gaps between the guests, she saw him drop to his knees, then collapse flat onto the floor. The crowd gasped and muttered, someone shouted for help. A lady stepped on Bianca's foot and a young man accidentally elbowed her in the nose, but she managed to squeeze between them to kneel beside her master. 'Fetch a doctor!' she cried. Master di Lombardi choked again, and looked up at her. The flesh around his eyes was puffy and swollen. His gaze fixed on her and his mouth opened. She had to lean down, her hair trailing on the floor, to hear what he was trying to say. 'Duchess . . .' Bianca looked up, about to fetch the Duchess, but she felt di Lombardi's wrinkled fingers close around her hand. He pressed something long and thin into her palm. She knew what it was from the touch alone: a paintbrush. Di Lombardi coughed once more and his fingers tightened on Bianca's wrist as he pulled her even closer. 'Hidden . . .rooms, secret passages . . . second city . . .' he whispered. 'Protect . . . the Duchess . . .' 'What?' she asked. But di Lombardi's eyes rolled back until there was just a sliver of white between his swollen eyelids, and then his grip loosened and he fell back, unconscious. 'Master!' she cried.