Magic is power, and power is magic... Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a mighty castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures. Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire. As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d'Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth. But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family's position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires. Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn't even want Leopold—she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry. When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.
De la Cruz (Frozen) launches a series set in the late 1920s of an alternate Earth where magic is real and the Franco-British Empire holds dominion over much of the world. While Princess Marie-Victoria faces imminent betrothal to Prussian Kronprinz Leopold, her childhood friend Aelwyn has returned from Avalon to take up a position as a court magician. American socialite Ronan Astor plans to use the season to land a wealthy, noble husband to revitalize her family's finances, and French noble Isabelle hopes to steal her lover Leopold away from his future wife. Romance, intrigue, betrayal, and magic are interwoven in this complex and somewhat overwrought drama, which also plays out in secret love affairs, hidden identities, and desperate conniving. The magic-dominated society de la Cruz creates has a certain faded charm part Gatsby, part Downton Abbey but the ending suffers from pacing problems, with several developments and resolutions taking place offstage or in exposition. Likewise, the use of sex as a tool and a weapon lends an unsettling undercurrent to the story. Ages 14 up.
I enjoyed this book a lot but the ending was not what I expected but the storyline was fine, not amazing but a good read.