cover image The Square of Sevens

The Square of Sevens

Laura Shepherd-Robinson. Atria, $29.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-66803-112-4

Shepherd-Robinson (Daughters of Night) immerses readers in Georgian England, where a young fortune teller navigates a world leery of witchcraft and aims to uncover the truth about her deceased mother. Red learns the ancient art of the Square of Sevens, a form of cartomancy, from her father. After her father dies, she is taken in by his recent acquaintance Mr. Antrobus, who has a secret connection to Red’s mother. Red’s quest for answers about her mother’s true identity, and why her father was convinced her mother’s family was a danger to her takes her from Cornwall and Bath to the back alleys of London, where she tells fortunes at the chaotic Bartholomew Fair and becomes embroiled in a legal battle between Lords Seabrooke and De Lacy involving lost wills and last-minute codicils. Shepherd-Robinson presents perennial themes of truth and lies, love and loyalty, and chance and fate, sprinkling the narrative with historical figures (Robert Walpole is described as a “wretched inconvenience,” and Red studies the experiments of Brazilian-born naturalist and inventor Bartolomeu Lourenco de Gusmão) and literary references, from Cervantes’s Don Quixote, to the words of Seneca and more. This is a captivatingly complex tale of intrigue set in a world hesitantly blundering its way to being post-Newtonian. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Sept.)