Muse | Brittany Cavallaro


Muse by Brittany Cavallaro

Katherine Tegen Books; 2021; 352 pages

Content Warnings: Emotional and physical parental abuse, kidnapping, gun violence, blood, animal abuse, underage drinking, threat of sexual assault, death of a loved one, drugging, sexism, eye injury

About the Author: “Brittany Cavallaro is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlotte Holmes novels, including A Study in Charlotte and, most recently, A Question of Holmes (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). With Emily Henry, she is the author of Hello Girls (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). Muse, the first novel in a historical fantasy duology, releases in February 2021. Cavallaro is also the author of the poetry collections Girl-King and Unhistorical, both from University of Akron Press. A recipient of a National Endowment in the Arts fellowship, she received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her PhD in English literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Currently, she teaches creative writing at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.” (Bio taken from the author’s website.)


Instagram: @skippingstones

Twitter: @skippingstones

“If she survived the next two days…she might just have a throne. Or, at least, be the power behind it.”

Claire Emerson has never been allowed to decide for herself what she wants in life. It’s 1893 in the First American Kingdom, and all Claire can hope for the future is to marry a man who isn’t horrible to her. Unfortunately, her inventor father believes that her touch is magical and refuses to let her leave. As the young Governor opens the gates of the World’s Fair and people stream into the province of St. Cloud, Claire’s father prepares to reveal the vicious weapon he’s created. But when the weapon fails to fire on command, Claire is taken captive by the Governor and thrust into a world of political machinations with threats around every turn. Worse still, war is brewing between St. Cloud and their neighboring province, and the women’s resistance movement that Claire’s best friend is a part of is growing more and more dangerous. If Claire wants a chance to shape her future, she must choose her allies carefully, learn to control her mysterious ability, and finally step out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Inventive and fiercely feminist, Muse is a bright historical fiction that’s not to be missed. With creative characters and a thoroughly developed plot that kept me guessing throughout the novel, I was on the edge of my seat as I devoured the twists and turns of this intriguing story. Claire is an admirable heroine as she fights to find her place in the world, and the push-and-pull romance was maddeningly enticing. Claire’s best friend Beatrix is also a fantastic character; a queer, feminist inventor full of courage, I found myself smiling every time she made an appearance. Additionally, the world itself is very well-built. The First American Kingdom is a fascinating backdrop, and the World’s Fair is a fun and innovative setting that made me wish I could explore it myself. Fans of imaginative YA historical fiction novels will love this powerful book.

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)

PRR Writer, Wendy Waltrip