From Publishers Weekly
Sharp characterization and an unusual historical backdrop distinguish Park's charming leadoff to an intricate new fantasy series. In an alternate 18th-century world where England's been swamped by a tidal wave, America teems with blond savages and "Roumania" and Germany battle for European domination, a magic book concocted by conjuress Aegypta Schenck sends young Miranda Popescu, the "white tyger" descendant of ancient royalty and Roumania's hope of freedom from "black tyranny," to Massachusetts to escape the fiendish Baroness Nicola Ceausescu and the heinous elector of Ratisbon. With her best friend, Andromeda (turned magically into first a yellow dog and later a charismatic male Roumanian courtier), and her loyal teenage admirer, Peter ("really" the son of Roumania's bravest warrior), Miranda makes hard choices to start fulfilling her destiny. Park (Celestis
, etc.) leaves some tantalizing loose ends, while the wily baroness and the necromancing elector promise dashing adventure and delicious heartbreak ahead. Blurbs from Ursula K. Le Guin and John Crowley testify to the novel's high quality.
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"The world is in two places," says Mirandas The Essential History
. "One false and one real." You guessed it: were in the fake one. In his first of a planned series, Park borrows the idea of alternate worlds from J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, and even L. Frank Bauma trick tried and true. Not surprisingly, certain complications thwart Mirandas attempt to claim her rightful place in the "real" world. Despite Parks generic theme, he draws complex characters (even as Mirandas friends transform into new roles) and convincing political ploys. The tale stalls a bit when Park ventures deep into 18th-century life, but fans will anxiously await the sequel, The Tourmaline
, due out next year.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.