August 18, 2021

#BookReview: Muse (Muse #1) by Brittany Cavallaro

Synopsis: American Royals meets The Winner’s Curse in the first book of bestselling author Brittany Cavallaro’s new duology, set in an alternate history American monarchy where a girl grapples for control of her own life in the middle of a looming war.

The year is 1893, and war is brewing in the First American Kingdom. But Claire Emerson has a bigger problem. While her father prepares to reveal the mighty weapon he’s created to showcase the might of their province, St. Cloud, in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape.

Claire’s father is a sought-after inventor, but he believes his genius is a gift, granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years. As St. Cloud prepares for war, Claire plans to claim her life for herself, even as her best friend, Beatrix, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne. At any cost.

When her father’s weapon fails to fire on the fair’s opening day, Claire is taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler. Remy believes that Claire’s touch bestows graces he’s never had, and with his governing power weakening and many political rivals planning his demise, Claire might be his only and best ally. But the last thing that Claire has ever wanted is to be someone else’s muse. Still, affections can change as quickly as the winds of war. And Claire has a choice to make: Will she quietly remake her world from the shadows—or bring it down in flames?


Rating: 1 Star
My Review: I love alternative history but this one sadly just did't work out.  I wished that this massive prologue would have been done differently to give us the history.  The entire start of this book felt like major info-dumping.  The history itself just didn't work out for me either. I didn't feel like it was a good fit for a story at least for me. I wished that something else would have been done.  I guess for me it just wasn't what I was looking for.  I didn't care about the story or the characters at all. 

From School Library Journal

GR 7 Up-It's 1893 and Claire's father is the weapons inventor set to be featured at the World's Fair in St. Cloud—he's more than a little unstable and the weapon doesn't work. Convinced Claire has the magic to fix it, he abuses her when she fails. Claire plans her escape, but when the weapon succeeds—with her intervention—she's in the crosshairs of young, unpopular governor Remy Duchamp. He takes her hostage to be the muse of the World's Fair, and possibly use her powers for himself. With an epigraph, preamble, and prologue, this book should feel like a slow start—more history lesson than novel—but juxtaposing a historical America where George Washington turned his back on democracy to become king against today's political theater sets the story alight with tension. Unfortunately, the complete lack of characters of color distracts from the story. With no mention of slavery (the First American Kingdom never fought a Civil War), one unnamed character of color, and white villains with an anti-immigration plotline, readers will be disheartened by Claire, who refuses to get involved in politics that don't directly affect her. Overbearing men, white supremacists, and white feminists are cast as the villains of the story; ultimately Claire is put in the position to be a white savior to the immigrants who have come to St. Cloud. VERDICT Problematic elements overshadow what could have been a well-crafted plot and interesting worldbuilding, making this an additional purchase for libraries in need of historical series.—Emmy Neal, Lake Forest Lib., IL


"In this fresh duology starter from Cavallaro (the Charlotte Holmes series), the novel’s heroine shares center stage with a glittering alternate version of the U.S.. Peopled with real-world historical characters alongside the fictional ones, Cavallaro’s vision of U.S. history presents thought-provoking parallels to past and present realities." -- Publishers Weekly

“A sizzling take on alternative history with a smart heroine, snappy prose, and electric storytelling. Muse is a creative delight!” -- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series

“With glittering gaslight and science laced with magic, Muse will keep you up all hours with its twisty plot and feisty heroine. Friendship, romance, and mystery abound!” -- Susan Dennard, New York Times bestselling author

“Brittany Cavallaro gives us another heroine to root for in this sparkling exploration of America as a monarchy, set against the rich backdrop of a world fair. Muse is an immersive tale of a girl navigating political machinations to discover the truth about the kingdom, and herself.” -- Stacey Lee, award-winning author of The Downstairs Girl

“Uncooperative, riotous women reclaim history in Brittany Cavallaro’s complex reimagining of the 1893 World’s Fair, set in an alternate American monarchy on the brink of war. An electric reclamation of America’s past, and a warning for the future if we continue to underestimate the strength of young women and their power to control their own narratives, and the world.”  -- Mackenzi Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Praise for the Charlotte Holmes series: “A thrilling twist on a classic. Readers will be pulled in by both the riveting mystery and Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant heroine with secrets of her own.” -- Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of London series

“Beautiful prose, thrilling action, a touch of romance, and two complicated heroes to root for make this a not-to-be-missed sequel. Readers will be craving the final book in the trilogy.” -- Booklist (starred review) on The Last of August

“Fans of the first Charlotte Holmes novel, A Study in Charlotte, will not be disappointed, and readers who are new to these characters will savor the fast-paced plot... This series is entirely un-put-downable. The Last of August will definitely leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment.” -- Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) on The Last of August

“Cavallaro’s crackling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and complicated relationships make this feel like a seamless and sharp renewal of Doyle’s series. An explosive mystery featuring a dynamic duo.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on A Study in Charlotte

“Fans of television’s Elementary and Sherlock will avidly devour this book...a joyous excuse to watch one of the literary world’s most beloved pairings come together.” -- Booklist on A Study in Charlotte

Praise for Hello Girls: “The girls’ voices are authentic, and readers will enjoy a feeling of female empowerment as they follow them on their road trip... Drawing inspiration from Thelma & Louise, this book provides a fun, fast-paced plot with resourceful feminist protagonists.”

-- Kirkus Reviews

“If Gillian Flynn decided to write a YA novel, it might go something like this...Cavallaro and Henry write with sharp, crisp voices, imbuing their heroines with wit and outsized imagination. They capture the idiosyncrasies of young female friendship with startling acuity, nailing the deep care and love of these relationships... A novel that taps into something elemental about the ferocity of female adolescence and luxuriates in that space to create a page-turning tale with a potent electric current at its heart.” -- Entertainment Weekly

Hello Girls is exactly the kind of smart, angry, tender-hearted, patriarchy-dismantling story that I’ve been hungering for, with a gorgeous, complex friendship at its core. Beautifully written, with a thrumming vitality in every sentence and characters so real that their passions, hurts, and triumphs will leave you breathless.” -- Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn and Sawkill Girls

Hello Girls made me want to hit the road with my best friend. It’s fierce and funny and full of heart, and made me feel invincible.” -- Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe

Hello Girls is a razor-sharp union of sidesplitting dark comedy, fierce feminism, and poignant friendship, paced like an Alfa-Romeo at full throttle, and written in gleaming, perfect, gutpunch sentences.” -- Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent King

“A stirring tale of female friendship, loyalty, and the depth of love.” -- Mindy McGinnis, Edgar Award-winning author of The Female of the Species

“Holy cats, I loved this book. Electric and powerful and so, so smart, Hello Girls is the YA Thelma & Louise I didn’t know was missing from my life. Winona and Lucille--and Cavallaro + Henry--make a fierce, fantastic team.” -- New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno

“Fans of nonstop action will enjoy the collaborative novel’s unrelenting pace.” -- Publishers Weekly

“A wild ride that finds its footing in the deep bonds of friendship.” -- ALA Booklist

“A witty, sharply-observed critique of patriarchal norms... a fierce celebration of the power of female friendship... smart, fast-paced, and immensely enjoyable... perfect for fans of Jeff Zentner’s Rayne and Delilah’s Midnight Matinee or Kody Keplinger’s Run.” -- School Library Journal

“It’s easy to draw parallels between Hello Girls and other dark girl-power comedies like Thelma and Louise, but Cavallaro and Henry offer something extra in Lucille and Winona’s relationship... The high stakes come across as genuine and realistic, and the girls tackle their traumas with grit and humor. Readers will find comfort in the resilience of the characters and the strength of their friendship.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

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