Winner of the Prism Award for Best Fantasy Novel
“Tells a love story with exquisite detail.”—TrueBlood.net
Cairo in the 1860s is a bustling metropolis where people from all walks of life mix and mingle, mostly in complex harmony. When evil ghosts and unquiet spirits stalk the city’s streets, the Guard are summoned—six young men and women of different cultures, backgrounds, and faiths, gifted by their Goddess with great powers.
While others of the Guard embrace their duties, their leader, British-born Beatrice, is gripped by doubt. What right has she, a bookish, sheltered, eighteen-year-old, to lead others into battle? Why isn’t dark-eyed, compelling Ibrahim, who is stronger of will than Beatrice, the one in charge?
Ghosts maraud through Cairo’s streets, heralding a terrible darkness. Beatrice and her Guard have little time to master their powers; a great battle looms as an ancient prophecy roars toward its final, deadly conclusion.
This enchanting prequel to Leanna Renee Hieber's gaslamp fantasy, Strangely Beautiful, returns to print after more than a decade, edited and revised for Tor's publication.
Strangely Beautiful series
Miss Violet and the Great War
The Eterna Files series
The Eterna Files
Eterna and Omega
The Eterna Solution
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This prequel to Hieber's Strangely Beautiful series will appeal to fans who like their Victorian-era romance with a heavy helping of the supernatural. Eighteen-year-old Beatrice Smith loves the sights and sounds of 1867 Cairo, where she assists her father in his studies. After her lover, Jean, plunges to his death with Beatrice looking on, a beautiful woman calling herself Persephone appears and tells Beatrice that she's part of a bigger plan, the Grand Work. Beatrice and five other people will form the Guard and lead the fight against spirits that haunt the city. Meanwhile, in the Whisper-world, Persephone fights the bonds of Darkness, who covets her, and longs to find a vessel for her beloved, the Phoenix, in the mortal world. Persephone is portrayed as innately good but also sometimes capricious, even at a cost to others. Beatrice moves on from Jean's death alarmingly fast, and her feelings for her curt lieutenant, Ibrahim, are never really justified by his actions. Hieber is undeniably good at making individual scenes grab the reader, but her meandering style diminishes the serious tasks at hand, and flowery prose, heavy on melodrama, weighs the story down.