In 1812 Russia, the exiled second son of the Tsar and his lover come under the sway of a magnetic woman who may be more than what she seems. As she drives the lovers toward conflict with the throne, they fall into collaboration with a revolutionary faction organizing an uprising for workers’ rights in St. Petersburg.

by Allison Epstein
‎ Doubleday, 2023
(via JABberwocky)

Russia, 1812. The war with Napoleon is over, and Imperial Army Captain Aleksandr Nikolaevich is returning home to Tsarskoe Selo, the imperial summer palace, where Prince Felix, the tsar’s second son and Sasha’s sometime lover, holds court. But the reunion he planned goes awry when Sasha saves a woman lying unconscious in the snow and carries her into the palace, only to discover she’s not quite a woman at all.
When Sasha and Felix watch Sofia transform herself into an owl, their reactions sunder their relationship. Sasha, who remembers the stories of the vila and the ways they torment humans, is terrified, but Felix is enchanted. And when Sofia shows him visions of the destruction his father’s war has wrought, for the first time in his life Felix feels a sense of responsibility. With a fire burning for change and his father unwilling to listen, Felix follows Sofia to a rebellion brewing among the working class of Saint Petersburg, where he finds community and purpose. But Sasha has orders to bring him back at any cost, and Sofia has motivations of her own. Felix might be the key to peaceful change – but he also might be the spark that ignites Saint Petersburg.

Allison Epstein earned her M.F.A. in fiction from Northwestern University and a B.A. in creative writing and Renaissance literature from the University of Michigan. A Michigan native, she now lives in Chicago, where she works as an editor. When not writing, she enjoys good theater, bad puns, and fancy jackets. She is the author of A Tip for the Hangman.

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