Drama and danger abound in this “intricately woven” (Shannon Messenger, author of the Sky Fall series) fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.
The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.
With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.
Political games meet magical intrigue in this Portuguese-flavored fantasy debut, first in a planned series. After Johanna Von Arlo's father dies during a high-wire act, her family tries to scrape by in their home of Santarem. When Lord Rafael DeSilva mistakes Johanna for a (male) poacher and attacks her, he incurs a debt of honor and offers her employment as a Storyspinner. Meanwhile, in the neighboring mage-run nation of Olinda, Jacar of the Elite Guard realizes that the heir of Santarem is in danger and that, without her, the magical barrier that separates these two lands will collapse. Jacar crosses into Santarem in search of the lost princess, a search made all the more urgent when he discovers that girls who resemble the heiress are being murdered. Chapters shift among several viewpoints, keeping the action lively but diluting the narrative, and readers are asked too readily to accept a relationship between Johanna and a man who beat her into unconsciousness and, even when he's trying to make amends, "itched to slap the smug grin off her face." Ages 14 up.