Miss Minton was certainly a most extraordinary-looking person. Her eyes, behind thick, dark-rimmed spectacles, were the colour of mud, her mouth was narrow, her nose thin and sharp and her black felt hat was tethered to her sparse bun of hair with a fearsome hat pin in the shape of a Viking spear.
'It's copied from the armour of Eric the Hammerer,' said Miss Minton, following Maia's gaze. 'One can kill with a hatpin like that.'
When she arrives in the Brazilian jungle, Maia finds she must tread carefully, but it's nothing to do with the plentiful insect life. Her sweetly dressed cousins are venomous, and her aunt and uncle avaricious. But the formidable Miss Minton is a staunch ally, and the Indian servants are loyal and loving. Maia also makes plenty of friends among the European children who live in Manaus, but none so close as the mysterious Finn Taverner, half Indian half European.