A Nutcracker retelling includes a Victorian mob princess/warrior heroine, an alternate New York City, steampunk faeries and an epic multigenerational battle.
Seventeen-year-old Clara is the daughter of New York’s mayor—which is to say her father is the poor dupe that organized crime has mounted as figurehead leader. Heartless Patricia Plum and depraved Dr. Victor are the real leaders, with the city at their mercy. When Dr. Victor isn’t committing vile tortures on the bodies of imprisoned waifs, he’s sexually harassing Clara, who’s afraid to fight back. She could fight back, however, because Clara’s Godfather has spent his life training her to become the kind of fighter one only sees in computer games, with a tear-away gown hiding her many knives. These skills will serve her well when she’s thrust into the fairyland Cane, accompanied by sexy prince Nicholas, who until recently was a statue: a sinister, repulsively marked statue she’d always found fascinating and more recently erotic. In Cane, the humans (who once tortured faeries for fun) have been defeated by the equally sadistic and sexually threatening faeries, who force all humans to become drug addicts. Perhaps Clara can help, or maybe she’ll succumb to the homoerotic advances of the evil queen.
An overbusy mishmash. (Fantasy. 15-17)