Welcome to the Release Week Celebration for Masks and Shadows. Read on for an exclusive excerpt, my linked review, and a chance to win 2 print copies. Be sure to enter!
Title: Masks & Shadows
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.
Buy It On:
Read my REVIEW
Anna whirled from one grand, high-ceilinged room to the next. In the daytime, the nobility walked these floors, and she’d never dare show her face where she hadn’t a specific task to complete, even if she’d had the time for aimless wandering. Now they were all asleep in the central wing of the palace, and she was free, although she’d pay dearly in exhaustion later.
Her tears had slowed after the first few minutes. She still hated György—hated the other maids who’d laughed with him—hated . . . She chewed her bottom lip, fighting down the misery.
More than any of the rest, she hated herself, for turning into a laughingstock just as she’d finally begun to make a few friends here.
A song welled up in her chest, crying to be released, to soothe her. But even now, well after midnight, it wasn’t safe for her to sing in an open space. If one of the other servants heard, she’d never earn back any respect.
She forced herself to keep walking, despite the throbbing headache that had begun at the back of her skull. Another half an hour and she’d be able to sleep, too tired to worry about what other people thought of her, what her nightmares might be, or even about the bloodsucking demons that lurked outside the castle walls.
She turned down a narrow side corridor and then shrank back. A gust of cold wind swept drops of rain onto her arms and face. Who would have opened a window in this weather?
She took a few hesitant steps into the corridor, wincing at the cold, damp air. Perhaps she ought to close the window herself. There were expensive-looking porcelain vases standing on pedestals nearby, being spattered by the rain.
On her third step, she looked down and saw blood on the floorboards. Blood and an open window.
A silent scream swallowed up the back of her throat. Dizziness enveloped her. She leapt sideways, reaching out to the inner wall for balance— and heard a man’s deep voice murmuring in the room on the other side. He spoke too quietly for her to make out any words but with a tone of compulsion that drew her closer despite herself, straining to hear more.
A hissing, whooshing sound answered the man. And then the voice rose in anger—
Soft footsteps sounded in the distance. Anna gasped and jerked back from the wall as if stung. The voices cut off. A listening silence replaced them.
A cold wind blew at Anna’s back as she picked up her skirts and fled back to her own room and safety.
About The Author
Stephanie Burgis was born in Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband, writer Patrick Samphire, and their children. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she studied music history as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, and worked as a website editor for a British opera company. She has published over thirty short stories for adults. Kat, Incorrigible (US)/A Most Improper Magick (UK) won the Waverton Good Read Children’s Award in 2011 for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer. It was followed by Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks and Stolen Magic/A Reckless Magick. Visit her online at www.stephanieburgis.com, at facebook.com/stephanieburgis, and Twitter @stephanieburgis.
- 2 finished print copies (INT)
- ends April 26
- winner has 48 hrs to confirm with mailing address