Victorian rebellion among the Magyar and the magical creatures of Hungary and Eastern Europe: the táltos, lidérc, and rusalka.
In a 19th-century Europe where the nobility's political power is reinforced by their magic, Anna is a failure among the highborn Luminate of London: she's Barren of magic. Though her supernatural sterility leaves her unsuitable for marriage, Anna has dreams. All her hopes crumble into dust, however, when her mysterious, uncontrollable ability to shatter magic destroys her sister's debut. Packed off to stay with poor cousins in Hungary, Anna's promptly drawn into the anti-imperial, democratic fervor spreading across Europe. Against the backdrop of the real-life Hungarian rebellion to bring down the Hapsburgs, Anna comes to love Hungary, befriends passionate student rebels, and learns that her Barrenness is (of course) a unique, potentially earth-shattering power. Narrator Anna, a white British woman of rank, questions her feelings for the handsome Romani, Gábor, who helps Anna negotiate the pros and cons of saving the world: freedom for the Magyar will also free Hungary's dangerous mythological creatures. Confident of her righteousness, Anna alternately scolds her family for saying "Gypsy" instead of "Romani," feels annoyance at Gábor for accusing her of slumming it with an exotic lover, and exoticizes the Romani herself.
Intrigue, romance, and revolution, with enough unanswered questions that fans will cross fingers for a sequel. (author’s note, bibliography, character list, glossary) (Fantasy. 13-15)