Source: From publisher for review
In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.
Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.
The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?My thoughts:
I really enjoyed Stephanie Burgis's last historical novel, Masks and Shadows (review linked) so I was thrilled that this one came in the mail for review. This is based on some historical events (Congress of Vienna) and people ( for example Pergren, a villain in the book, was a real villain in life). The author even suggests books at the end of the story if you would like to further your education on the time or people of the book.
Of course not everything is based on truth and usually that is the part that I enjoy. I would have thought the alchemy would have drawn me in... well, it did, but what really captivated me was the mystery. Caroline was the mystery. Her past, present, and what she wanted all intermingled with the political intrigue of the time period. How those puzzle pieces came together is what really what had me turning the pages of this book.
There are other POVs within the book which enhances the political mystery as well as brings to light other aspects that Caroline did not and could not have known or expected. One of them is the viewpoint of Michael who was an old trusted friend whom she felt abandoned her. You also get a viewpoints of Emperor Francis and Peter who is part of an actors group caught up in the intrigue. These viewpoints are well placed and so it wasn't confusing to the reader.
Without revealing what happens I have to say I really enjoyed the ending. I did not want to put it down and it was quite satisfying, especially with our main character, Caroline. This is a solid mystery with some paranormal happenings to enhance the threat. I give this book 4 stars.