For fans of Nevermoor and Howl's Moving Castle comes an epic middle grade fantasy about a girl with the ability to unlock anything—including the empire's darkest secrets.

Melanie Gate is a foundling with a peculiar talent for opening the unopenable—any lock releases at the touch of her hand. One night, her orphanage is visited by Traveler, a gearling automaton there on behalf of his magical mistress, who needs an apprentice pronto. When Melanie is selected because of her gift, her life changes in a flash, and in more ways than she knows—because Traveler is not at all what he seems. But then, neither is Melanie Gate.
 
So begins an epic adventure sparkling with magic, humor, secret identities, stinky cats, fierce orphan girls, impostor boys, and a foundling and gearling hotly pursued by the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the land.
 
Action-packed yet layered, The Lock-Eater is a mix of lush world-building, high stakes, humor, and emotional heft—a page-turner and so much more.
 
"Zack Loran Clark has spun a new classic. Perfect next read for fans of timeless favorites by Ursula LeGuin and Diana Wynne Jones." —Eliot Schrefer, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of The Lost Rainforest series
"An epic tapestry threaded with rich lore, vibrant characters, and a twisting plot that will have readers tumbling through the pages. Marrying the zany inventiveness of Alice in Wonderland with the thorough magical world-building of Howl’s Moving Castle, Clark creates a deeply immersive fantasy, full of both heft and humor, that’s sure to stay with young readers long after its final page is turned." —Soman Chainani, New York Times bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil series