Gorgeous Booklist review of Desideria

Kornher-Stace’s exceptionally well-crafted debut plays out in a byzantine milieu of madhouses and melodramatic theater in an unnamed seventeenth-century European metropolis. When a woman is found lying outside a burning building, her memory mislaid, and her lips sewn shut, her only recourse for shelter is the church-run Amaranth asylum. Protected from abusive wardens by a resourceful fellow inmate, she slowly recaptures her identity as Ange St. Loup, a rising actress in one of the city’s less-reputable theaters. As her life in the colorful Lady Minerva troupe comes back to her, however, Ange must grapple with the accusation that she is both insane and a murderess. Yet her greatest challenge awaits her in the person of Lady Minerva’s unseen puppet master, a shadowy criminal mastermind known only as the Specialist, who subtly manipulates Ange’s environment in a scheme bent on molding her into the city’s greatest actress. In richly textured, atmospheric prose, Kornher-Stace delivers a spellbinding tale of deception, betrayal, and the darker possibilities of playacting. – Carl Hays (Booklist, 1 Dec)

Comments are closed.