cover image The Phoenix Crown

The Phoenix Crown

Kate Quinn and Janie Chang. Morrow, $18.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-330473-4

Quinn (The Diamond Eye) and Chang (The Porcelain Moon) team up for a stirring story involving opera, prized antiquities, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Gemma Garland, a soprano in New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is hoping to revive her lagging career. Shortly after her arrival with the Met’s traveling company in San Francisco, where she’s slated to perform with Enrico Caruso, Gemma meets and falls for charming railroad magnate Henry Thornton. Soon, she’s singing at his house for members of high society. Her affection for Henry curdles, however, after she learns about his dark side from Chinese embroiderer Suling Feng, whom Henry has hired to mend a damaged robe from a Beijing palace. Among his other collectibles is an ornate crown, also taken from the palace. It turns out Suling’s lover Reggie has disappeared, and she tells Gemma that Henry is to blame. The women confront him just as the earthquake hits, after which Henry and the crown disappear. The authors ably develop the two main characters as they discover a shared sense of independence and join in common cause while reckoning with the mixed blessings of a powerful man’s patronage. Readers of historicals with strong female leads will savor this. (Feb.)