In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
"It is a fairy tale in every way"
In a city that never was, sex, scandal, and swordplay combine in a melodrama of manners that takes listeners to a world inspired by Elizabethan London, 18th century Paris, and 1980s New York City. Sexuality is fluid, politics is everything, and outcasts are the tastemakers. Intrigue is afoot when a Duchess, a scholar, a swordswoman, and a genius, are brought together by long-buried lies and truths that cannot be denied.
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance. To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly.
"The lesbian heroes we deserve"
Kaab seeks out the services of a good forger before paying a visit to the Duchess Tremontaine. Diane, meanwhile, pays a visit to Highcombe House, the Tremontaine country estate. And at long last, Kaab and Diane face off in a drawing-room duel where the weapon of choice is words.
Diane's secret arrangement with the Balam family bears fruit as a strategic withholding of chocolate wreaks havoc on the city's social fabric, from the Hill to Riverside. But Kaab has her own private stash, for which she has a special use in mind, involving a certain pretty forger. Meanwhile, Rafe sits for his exams, with his dreams of starting his own school hanging in the balance. Diane ploys all her wit and wiles upon the Dragon Chancellor.
In a city that never was, the rich live high on the Hill, the criminals and swordsmen live on the dangerous streets of Riverside, while foreign merchants keep them both supplied with their daily chocolate. And through it all weaves a dance of politics, intrigue, and secrets.
Swordplay and stolen kisses keep the blood pumping and flowing in the new installment of Tremontaine, the online episodic series set in Ellen Kushner's beloved Riverside universe.