Two girls struggle with their dark family heritage in this fantasy perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Kendare Blake.
As debutantes in 1890s New York City, cousins Dacia and Lou knew little about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. Now, upon turning seventeen, the girls must journey to Romania--a journey that seems to be both reward and punishment--to meet their cousins and their tyrant of a grandmother and to learn the secrets of their family. Secrets spoken of in whispers. Dangerous secrets known as the Claw, the Wing, and the Smoke.
But as dangerous as those family secrets might be, even more dangerous is the centuries-old bond between the Florescus and the royal Dracula family, and it seems that it’s time for Dacia and Lou to give up their life in New York society and take their place among the servants of the Draculas. When the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula, sets his sights on Dacia as part of his evil, power-hungry plan, the girls must accept or fight against this cruel inheritance. Do they have the courage to break the shackles of their upbringing and set the course of their own destiny?
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Jessica Day George is the author of the New York Times bestseller Wednesdays in the Tower and the rest of the Castle Glower series, as well as the Twelve Dancing Princesses series and Dragon Slippers series. Originally from Idaho, she studied at Brigham Young University and has been a movie store clerk, a bookseller, and a school office lady before becoming a writer. Jessica lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, their three young children, and a five-pound Maltese named Pippin who often makes cameo appearances in her books.
Gr 6–9—In 1897, two American debutante cousins, Louisa Neulander and Dacia Vreeholt, travel to Europe to visit their mothers' family in Romania. Their relatives, the Florescus, turn out to be shapeshifters with three possible forms; the claw (wolf); the wing (bat); and the smoke (mist). Dacia and Lou receive their powers from domineering clan head Lady Ioana. She demands they use their abilities to aid a descendant of the Dracula family, suave Prince Mihai, to overthrow the Romanian crown. Lou and Dacia team up with Johnny and Theo, members of an ancient society, to stop the attack and break free of their coercive relatives. Unresolved questions leave room for a sequel. George's novel has just enough history, fantasy, and romance to suit a range of readers. Although less dense, this work has a similar feel to Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's "Cecilia & Kate" novels (Harcourt), mixing magic and manners. Most readers will intuit that Prince Mihai is too perfect to trust. However, Dacia and Lou gather strength from each other in less obvious ways. Some secondary characters are not fleshed out, but may play larger roles in future installments. The theme of familial obligation suits the historical period with its emphasis on appropriate behavior and socially acceptable marriage-making. Sprinkle in the Romanian setting and magical female empowerment, and there's more than enough to keep readers' attention. VERDICT Proper debutantes and snarling wolves? A winning combination for most libraries.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
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