In this second Empress Chronicles book, Liz and Sisi continue their intertwined journey through time. On the heels of discovering a magical locket in the empress diary, Liz comes to understand its very special power: the wearer must speak the truth. Not only that, but it turns out that there are three lockets, each with their own magic and power.
Meanwhile, Sisi realizes that she’s communicating with a girl who lives 150 years in the future. A girl who knows what awaits her if she marries the emperor: lack of personal freedom and a legacy that will refer to her as the "reluctant empress."
With the world's future hanging in the balance, the two heroines must work together to thwart Lola, whose ambition to rule the Habsburg Empire will rewrite history, and lead to a terrifying new version of reality.
When I open the locket, there’s a bolt of
sadness that stabs me, then clings to my skin, making me feel like I’ve
trespassed somewhere I shouldn’t have. If there really is some sort of power
coming from this thing, we should return it. Only, with Dr. Greta over in
Germany, and having stolen the diary a whole month ago, we’d both be in crazy
trouble. Especially Cory, given that he’s already got two strikes against him
with the juvenile authorities and MIPs and stuff like that.
The diary is hidden under a loose board behind
my bookcase. Once we found out that my shrink had been summoned to return it to
the authorities, Cory suggested that we stash it. It’s been a couple of days
since I checked it, and now, with our new suspicions about the locket, I want
to revisit that passage about the keepsake’s magic. Only, I need Cory to
translate Sisi’s German.
The bookcase scrapes the floor a little when I
shove it forward. The entire wall is made of wood—not one sheet of drywall in
this old place—and Cory had pried loose a short panel of fir where it meets the
baseboard molding. That’s where I find the empress journal pages crammed into
one the binding of my last shrink-sponsored food diary. My heartbeat competes
with the storm as I wiggle it free and tiptoe across the hall.
I find Cory already asleep, buried in his
sleeping bag in the screened-in summer porch. The diary and locket feel heavy
in my hands; my nerves are jangling as I approach his burrito-wrapped body.
“Cory,” I loud-whisper.
He snorts and turns over, facing away from me.
Cory pops his face out. “Dude, you’re totally
interrupting my amazing dream.”
For Cory, an amazing dream probably has to do
with his mouth over a bong, or some girl-related activity, and I don’t want the
details. I hold out the journal, “We need to get to the bottom of this.”
Cory sits up and rubs his eyes. Another crack
of thunder, this one right over us. I settle in close to him. I seem to be
shivering, all of a sudden.
“What, you’re scared of a little storm,
“Don’t call me that.”
He holds his arm out, his chin gestures toward
his shoulder, “Come here.”
I scootch in closer, his warm body heating me
instantly, taking the shiver away. His arm settles around my shoulder and I
open the diary, the loose pages of ancient text shift away from the decoy cover,
and I hold them tight to keep them from blowing away as another gust of wind
As I page through it, looking for that place
where Cory had translated Sisi’s entries about love and visions and magic, the
image of Alika gets clearer. Alika and Cory, together on that bridge. I keep
turning the worn, yellowed pages, trying to ignore the intrusion of thoughts of
Cory close to another girl, but the vision is very strong. Overpowering. Rain
spits at us. Wind blows and whistles through the screen. I toss the locket to
the far end of the sleeping bag, down near where the rain has trickled and
pooled on the floor. And just as I hear the clink of the keepsake sliding to
the floor, Cory shouts, “Liz, look at this!”
(click on image for Goodreads link)
About the Author
Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).
Suzy's young adult novels, THE MOMENT BEFORE and THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES are available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
An e-chapbook of some of her stories, UNKISS ME, can be found here