Sixteen-year-old Laura della Scala becomes dangerously embroiled in the secrets, scandal and political intrigue of 16th-century upper-class Venice as she seeks to unravel the mystery surrounding her sister’s unexpected death.
Summoned home from the convent where she’s lived for five years, Laura discovers her beloved sister Beatrice has drowned, and her father expects her to marry Beatrice’s wealthy fiancé, Vincenzo. Still grieving for Beatrice, Laura’s pulled into the gossip and rivalries of Venetian society, in which everyone is “part of a scheme or a plot.” When Laura realizes her future husband is elderly, cruel and lecherous, she feels powerless to disobey her father. Desperate to avoid marrying Vincenzo, Laura betrays a confidence to join the Segreta, a powerful secret society of masked women who arrange for Vincenzo’s disgrace and exile. Saved from the marriage, Laura feels indebted to the Segreta, but she also suspects they may be involved in her sister’s death. As she searches for Beatrice’s murderer, Laura falls in love with a penniless young artist with his own volatile secret guaranteed to rock Venetian society. Told in the first person, present tense from Laura’s perspective and set amid glittering ballrooms and dark canals, this richly atmospheric thriller stars a bold heroine who tackles murder, betrayal and revenge with contemporary gusto.
Enticing, exciting fare. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)