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THE CITY BEYOND THE GLASS by Suzannah Rowntree - Review

Here I am with my second review for Suzannah Rowntree's fabulous series of retellings. Today I'm putting the spotlight on . . .

What if the Twelve Dancing Princesses tried to steal your soul? As a daughter of nobility in Renaissance Venice, Gemma Caloprini must marry - or die behind convent walls. But when an unwanted betrothal goads Gemma to defy her father, she risks her most dangerous secret: the Glass Doge, a sinister nobleman living behind the glass of her mirror. Now Gemma faces a brutal dilemma. If the suitors competing for her youngest sister's hand discover her secret, she'll be locked in a convent. If the Inquisitors find out, she'll burn as a witch. And if she can't pay her debt to the Glass Doge, she'll lose her soul forever.


Another amazing fairy-tale retelling in a vivid historical setting, filled with memorable characters, high action, and clever inclusion of the original tale's key plot points. The author did whittle the number of sisters down to three, which makes sense, particularly for a novella, and I appreciated not having to keep track of twelve girls! Emma is a flawed oldest sister trapped in a home and society that offers her very little in the way of life choices. She has fallen into a diabolical trap laid within her own home and struggles to find a way out--making many selfish, dishonest, and eventually useless choices along the way.

Add in the Glass Doge, a creepy entity offering entertainment to the trapped people of Venice; Maria, a helpless slave; Cosimo, a clever antihero with selfish motives of his own; and two hapless would-be suitors--and you've got a fascinating story of power-struggles, machinations, lies, and one unselfish character . . . But I won't spoil the fun. If you enjoy historical fantasy and a quick yet rich reading experience, be sure to pick up this story!

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