cover image Muse


Brittany Cavallaro. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-284025-7

In this fresh duology starter from Cavallaro (the Charlotte Holmes series), the novel’s heroine shares center stage with a glittering alternate version of the U.S. in the 19th-century. Ruled by a monarchial line of kings descended from George Washington, the First American Kingdom comprises a handful of sometimes-warring provinces, each ruled by its own hereditary governor. In Monticello-by-the-Lake, quietly rebellious Claire Emerson, 17, is getting ready to flee her violent inventor father by running away to an arranged marriage. Mad and ambitious, her father believes that Claire’s blessing and touch have the power to ensure the success of a giant weapon he will debut at the 1893 World’s Fair. A chaotic turn of events lands Claire in the mansion of the province’s young governor, Remy Duchamp, who also believes in Claire’s ability to bolster his luck. Meanwhile, the nearby province of Livingston-Monroe appears to be growing more aggressive, Remy’s principal advisor hatches his own schemes, and the members of the Daughters of the American Crown work behind the scenes to gain rights for women. While the freewheeling narrative whirls readers along, Claire slowly gains agency, using her wits rather than her supposed powers to take charge of her fate. Peopled with real-world historical characters alongside the fictional ones, Cavallaro’s vision of U.S. history presents thought-provoking parallels to past and present realities. Ages 14–up.[em] Agent: Lana Popovic, Chalberg & Sussman. (Feb.) [/em]