The scion of a fading magical aristocracy flees an arranged marriage and finds herself caught in a rebellion against her own people.
Felicita is made of stronger stuff than her friend Ilven, who responded to her own betrothal by hurling herself off a rocky cliff. Felicita, instead, flees into the slums disguised as a half-caste prostitute. She's high-Lammer, one of the much-loathed colonizing overlords of Pelimburg, but she washes dishes for pennies and tries not to starve among the olive-skinned Hobs. She lives on the mercy of Dash, a Hob—squatter? landlord? criminal? charismatic rebel?—who draws Felicita into his anti-Lammer schemes. Dash plans no mere armed revolt, but a manipulation of wild magic older than the entire Lammer occupation. A seeming love triangle among Felicita, Dash and the well-to-do vampire Jannik is more complicated than the usual; Felicita is drawn to Dash but still mourns the lost Ilven, and Jannik courts Felicita while pining after Dash. There's some clumsy stereotyping in the worldbuilding: Jannik's people are big-nosed, discriminated-against, exotic, exceedingly wealthy, outsider merchants who use their great wealth to exploit the poor and manipulate the aristocracy; sound familiar? Nonetheless, the worldbuilding intrigues, and the open-ended conclusion begs a sequel.
Moody, in the spirit of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009), but with a much more likable heroine. (Fantasy. 13-16)