Jul 062023

Publishers Weekly: Heartfield (The Chatelaine) injects some magic into European history with this lush and enchanting outing. In 1768, close-knit sisters Charlotte and Antoine, daughters of the Habsburg emperor, are sent their separate ways to marry powerful husbands: Charlotte to Naples and the brutish King Ferdinand, and Antoine to France, where she is renamed Marie Antoinette and weds the future King Louis XVI. Isolated and alone, the two rely on lessons from a book of spells they discovered as children to reclaim power over their lives while trying to do right for their respective nations. As tension mounts both politically and in the magical world, the sisters find themselves on opposing sides, turning from close confidants to bitter rivals. Heartfield’s accounts of both queens are detailed and insightful, with a fresh take on Marie Antoinette and a fascinating look at her less famous sister. The magic system, which demands a sacrifice for each spell cast, is a cool concept, but in execution it’s a bit murky and occasionally feels like an afterthought to the story at hand. Still, fans of historical novels looking for just a touch of the fantastic are sure to be sucked in.