Orbit, Sep 9 2010, $14.99
By 1837 Augustan Year, Europa is divided between the old and the new. At a time when the continent faces an ice age, the battle for the hearts of society pits the cold mages against the industrial revolutionists as the detested former argue that the scientists are destroying the world while the welcomed latter claim they are making life better for the less fortunate.
Near Londun in the port city of Adurnam, young Catherine Hassi Barahal shares a bed with her cousin Beatrice as she lives with her aunt and uncle. She wants to know more about her parents; intrepid explorers who apparently died, but has no avenue to begin until she finds a tome her father apparently wrote about The Lies the Romans Told. Soon afterward a cold mage from the Diarisso Lineage of the Four Moon House arrives claiming a magical contract in which the oldest Barahal will marry him unless she is already twenty. Right there at the house of her aunt and uncle, Cat is bound in marriage to the old cold mage. They begin a journey across the icy tundra to a place she knows nothing of, but must learn fast if she is to survive.
This alternate historical Europe is a great opening act as the readers will believe in this world of Kate Elliot. The conflict between the cold mages and the industrialists mirrors in many ways Dickensian England. Cat is a strong protagonist who holds the vivid story line together, but it is the nineteenth century vision of Kate Elliot as seen mostly through her heroic teenager’s eyes that makes for a stirring thriller.