In Miller’s debut novel, political revolution threatens the livelihood—and the principles—of a seamstress who sews enchanted clothes.
Sophie Balstrade has made a comfortable life for herself in Galitha City despite her common birth and her descent from "backwater" Pellians. Her success as a seamstress is due to her hard work but also her magic: Sophie innovatively combines the traditional charms of her people with the cosmopolitan fashions favored by the Galatine upper crust. Though the demands of running her own business have isolated her from everyone but her brother, Kristos, and her shop assistants, Sophie is happy chasing prosperity on her terms…but her world is changing. Anti-monarchist sentiment simmers in the streets, the flames fanned by poverty, frustration, and rival states. Even as Sophie’s artistry draws royal eyes and earns her welcome into the homes of the elite—and an introduction to dashing Duke Theodor—Kristos is leading a budding class war. And in a war, no one gets to stay neutral. Good intentions lead to desperate measures, first by the revolutionaries and then by Sophie herself, as she’s blackmailed into joining an assassination attempt. The murder plot threatens Sophie’s newfound friendships and her ethics: She’s never used her magic to harm others, but now she has no choice. Can Sophie’s ingenuity undo the dangerous thread tightening around the throats of everyone she loves, or will there be a price to pay no matter which side she chooses? Strong research, moral ambiguities, and an innovative magic system distinguish the story from similar offerings. The off-screen resolution of a major confrontation is slightly disappointing, and Theodor is a little too perfect a Prince Charming, but there’s still plenty here to enjoy.
A well-executed historical fantasy debut whose author has a sharp eye for detail.