Coronets and Steel

Coronets and Steel

Book - 2010
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Too much imagination was tantamount to lying―that's what my grandmother taught me. So when I first got the sense that someone was following me, I ignored it. Who'd waste time following me?

Me, being Aurelia Kim Murray, a grad student from California with a passion for ballet and fencing, and a hopelessly romantic vision of the world. I had some to Europe to track down my grandparents' families, but so far I'd had no luck.

I couldn't explain the sense of urgency that drove me, even to myself. It has begun that day four months ago when my grandmother lay restlessly in her bed, her eyes glittering with fever as she gripped my hand. "Your mother is too gentle," she's whispered in her aristocratic Parisian French. "I cannot send her to steal the breach."

Breach? What breach? With her family? With my grandfather's family? Neither Mom nor I knew anything about Grandmother's family or the handsome man in the silver-framed photo that Gran always kept on her bedside table.

"She wouldn't talk about her life before California," my mom has said, as we waited in yet another specialist's office, hoping to find out why, though Gran had recovered from her fever, she had not spoken since.

Nothing had come of my search in Paris, or Vienna, and no matter how fast I walked along the grand boulevards, I knew I couldn't outpace my sense of failure.

And that's when I met my first ghost.

But seeing ghosts wasn't my biggest problem. I was being followed, and I was about to find out more about my lineage than I had ever imagined possible in my wildest, most fanciful dreams...or nightmares.
Publisher: New York : DAW Books, c2010
ISBN: 9780756406851
9780756406424
Branch Call Number: SMIT
Characteristics: 420 p. ; 24 cm

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JCBunnell
Jan 29, 2014

I *was* delighted with this novel. It's an ingenious and entertaining riff on several genres at once -- "Prisoner of Zenda" swashbucklers (up to and including the perfect-double complications), modern romantic suspense (fans of Elizabeth Peters should be wholly charmed), and lightly drawn contemporary fantasy (the fantastical elements are subtle but cleverly developed).

What it isn't is a category YA novel, though nothing in it should shock Smith's many YA readers. Like her other books from DAW, this is aimed at a general audience and should be reviewed as such.

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RebeccaI
Jun 26, 2011

After having been delighted with Smith's other offerings in the YA genre, I was rather disappointed with her latest work.
The plot meandered along and it was extremely difficult for me to empathize with the characters. Rather too many cliches employed, and I was surprised by some of the rather "adult" situations Kim found herself in, considering that the books I'd read before were free of such tedious scenes.
Perhaps the next book will be an improvement on the first, but I'm in no hurry to find out.

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