Dacia: Aunt Kate reminds me endlessly that Bucharest is the Little Paris, and that should be good enough for me, but I disagree. Why limit myself to the “Little Paris” when I could have seen the big one? And thus far there is nothing to see but ocean, and no shopping, and no Will Carver or any reasonable substitute. I am becoming most disagreeable.
LouLou: Whatever that meant, I decided that it was outside of enough, and I gave him one of Aunt Kate’s patented Looks. I’m sure you can guess which one, and many of New York’s freshest young men would recognize it as well!
“Outside of enough.” I love that. It sounds like something my grandmother would have said.
Anyway. Dacia and LouLou are cousins, and the co-heroines of Jessica Day George’s upcoming Silver in the Blood, a historical fantasy about two New York society girls who go to Romania to visit their family…and discover that said family has been keeping some pretty big secrets from them. The first third reminded me a LOT of Sorcery and Cecelia, in terms of tone and format and mix of genres—like the Wrede/Stevermer, it’s light and funny and smart and charming, uses letters and newspaper clippings and diary entries, and blends elements from historicals and mysteries and fantasies into an altogether pleasing whole.
But! Once the girls begin to realize that their family has been keeping them in the dark—and once they start to put the pieces together—the tone changes distinctly. Ultimately, Silver in the Blood ends up reading more like Alyxandra Harvey’s A Breath of Frost, both because the familial betrayal brings the story to a darker, scarier place, and because overall, the disparate elements and tones never entirely mesh, making for a somewhat choppy read. (Entirely enjoyable, always! But be ready for some minor whiplash.)
A couple of especially nicely done elements: the thread about how crushes subside, and the characterization of the girls. Being the adorable flirt that she is, Dacia has all manner of besotted swains following her around, but she only really has eyes for one of them…at first. Later, though, once everything has gone blooey, she wonders what she ever even saw in him—it’s an arc about growing up and out of something, and one I don’t see all that often.
And then, the characterization! When they are introduced, Dacia comes across as the courageous one, the flirtatious, somewhat rebellious firecracker, while LouLou is more sedate and shy, compliant and willing to conform to the rules of polite society. When all hell breaks loose, though, it is LouLou who adjusts more easily, who is immediately able to accept this new understanding of the world and her new place in it. And none of that comes out of nowhere—in the very first few pages, there is a brief moment in which LouLou steps up and defends her own honor, even though she is somewhat horrified by her behavior later.
Most everything gets tied up by the end, though there’s a window cracked for a possible sequel.
While it didn’t leave me desperate to read more about Dacia and LouLou, it did leave me with a distinct need to read more about Romania in the late 1800s. Do you have anything to recommend?
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.