cover image Masks and Shadows

Masks and Shadows

Stephanie Burgis. Pyr, $17 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-63388-132-7

Burgis (the Kat, Incorrigible series), trained as a music historian, does justice to an unusual choice of time period and subject matter in this enjoyable historical fantasy. Charlotte von Steinbeck, recently widowed, accepts her sister Sophie's invitation to visit Eszterh%C3%A1za, the grandiose palace of the Hungarian prince Nikolaus Esterh%C3%A1zy. The year is 1779, and the prince, Sophie's lover, is a wealthy patron of the arts and sciences. One of the arts he supports is music: his chief household musician is Haydn, and the famous castrato singer Carlo Morelli arrives to visit shortly after Charlotte does. The prince's court, however, is also full of alchemists studying dangerous, secret magic. Charlotte and Carlo learn that they and those they care for are in deadly peril as they attempt to attend Haydn's new opera and succeed at falling in love. The political intricacies and the details of court life and court music are intensely evocative, and the characters are charming%E2%80%94though not, unfortunately, as three-dimensional as their spectacular surroundings. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Apr.)