Author: Stephanie Burgis

#PubDay Book Review | “Congress of Secrets” by Stephanie Burgis by the author who wrote “Masks and Shadows”!

Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “Congress of Secrets” direct from the publisher PYR (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

How I came to learn about ‘Congress of Secrets’:

In April, I posted a #PubDay review for this author’s first novel with PYR which was “Masks and Shadows” – not your typical historical, as it held within it elements of Cosy Horror, Alternative History and Historical Fantasy; truly the niche in which the story fit was a work of it’s own, as I lamented the following on behalf of reading it:

One grace Burgis granted her new readers (such as I) is a framework of foundation rooted inside our known historical past! She’s taken bits and bobbles of real historical artifact and knitted it up inside an alternative historical setting to where you can juxtaposition the real and the fictional in seamless fashion! I loved this style of her word craft because it gave a dimensional of awareness of where we’re entreating inside as far as timescape and setting are concerned but also, a knowing level of ‘place’ as it’s a familiar side of Europe during the late 18th Century! How she found the beautiful balance between what is known and what can be imagined is truly remarkable!

I liked how she paced the narrative to the rhythm of a play – it was quite keenly illuminating all the dialogue and action, but to such a clever intuitive nodding of each of the characters in turn taking their cues and then exiting the scenes as necessary!

I was not at all surprised there were Cosy Horror elements underlining the narrative arc as this historical approach to telling a fantastical story reminded me of my readings of Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan (review) or even The Haunting of Springett Hall by E.B. Wheeler (review) as they mirror Masks and Shadows for bridging genre and bending it to the will of the author’s pen.

-quoted from my review of Masks and Shadows

Shortly after I posted my review, the publicist I work with at Prometheus mentioned Burgis’s next release and from that first glimpse of the premise, I became interested. I had a feeling there might be the same mixture of old world elements, magical intrigue with thrilling suspense and a historical backdrop (this time set in Vienna) I would appreciate drinking in as I moved through her story-line. She has such a unique voice in Historical Fiction, I simply wanted to read what she was going to create next!

I wasn’t surprised that in theory Congress of Secrets follows suit out of Masks and Shadows as you could see the leeway of how the scope of the first novel could be carried forward. Both are marked as one-offs, even though Congress of Secrets is only a scant 35 years later! I’ve learnt a lot about how series can be joined together through theme, setting or genre – and I believe this is one of those series where the characters switch-out but there are elements of connection knitting the series of stories together. They are not continuously sequenced by setting either but rather the way in which the story is told.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art Design: I was quite surprised when I saw the photographs on the cover were stock images because in this particular instance the collage effect of having them all together gave me the impression they were specifically created for this cover! I love how the fusion of each photograph blends well with the synopsis and grants you a visual clue about where your heading once you open the novel itself. It is such a beautiful cover design – from the colours and the layout of it directly feeling like the niche Burgis has created.

#PubDay Book Review | “Congress of Secrets” by Stephanie Burgis by the author who wrote “Masks and Shadows”!Congress of Secrets
by Stephanie Burgis
Source: Direct from Publisher

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9781633881990

Also by this author: Masks and Shadows

Genres: Alternative History, Cosy Horror, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy


Published by Pyr

on 1st November, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 347

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Read the author’s blog about Congress of Secrets!

Converse via: #CongressOfSecrets

About Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

Stephanie Burgis was born in Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband, writer Patrick Samphire, and their children. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she studied music history as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, and worked as a website editor for a British opera company.

She has published over thirty short stories for adults. Kat, Incorrigible (US)/A Most Improper Magick (UK) won the Waverton Good Read Children’s Award in 2011 for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer. It was followed by Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks and Stolen Magic/A Reckless Magick.

Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

On alchemy and dark arts:

As soon as I saw Caroline being affected by the dark alchemy I recognised having been used in Masks and Shadows, I knew this new extension of the plot would thicken quite differently. It took so long to understand the darker elements which were undermining and crippling the characters in the last story – as the heart of the narrative had been a thrilling suspense, where you were meant to be kept in the dark for as long as possible in order to peel back the layers of the novel. In this instance, what was so interesting to me, is how early-on the disclosure is given that something quite alarmingly potent is being used against the will of the people. Setting the stage for a curious new perspective on how to overturn a foe who has sorted out the best advantage against everyone he or she wishes to overtake; not just mind control but a complete reduction in consciousness!

Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 1 November, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Alternative History, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cosy Horror, Cosy Horror Suspense, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Indie Author, Prometheus Books, Vulgarity in Literature

#PubDay Book Review | “Masks and Shadows” by Stephanie Burgis

Posted Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Masks and Shadows” direct from the publisher PYR (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

How I came to learn about ‘Masks and Shadows’:

For the fuller story behind my forthcoming reviews on behalf of Prometheus Books, kindly read my story about becoming a reviewer for them on my End of the Year Survey, 2015. I was quite delighted by receiving an email from the publicist I am working with at Prometheus Books, as before I had the proper chance to start my reviews, she instinctively knew how much I love reading Historical Fiction! This title stood out to me for several reasons: it’s the first adult novel by it’s author who has a penchant for writing Middle Grade stories; it’s set during the 18th Century one of my most beloved centuries to explore; there is a Musical Historical backdrop to the evolving story and it’s centred at court!

High society and life at Court are two of my favourite historical veins of interest – the court has a way of enlightening you inside a portion of the historical past where innuendo reigned supreme. I have read a few musical driven plots since I’ve become a book blogger and as I enter into my 3rd Year, I’m appreciating being able to re-examine certain styles of stories which I itch to read more of.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art Design: On display in the cover art are all the key marks of the story: from the ethereal smoke snaking it’s way into view to the masquerade mask(s) and the setting for the folly itself: Eszterháza Palace. The colours themselves lend such an enriched cover palette but it’s the fullness of the cover design to evoke out a recognition of the story’s internal elements that struck me as being quite bang-on brilliant as you can foretell a bit from it’s artwork.

#PubDay Book Review | “Masks and Shadows” by Stephanie BurgisMasks and Shadows
by Stephanie Burgis
Source: Direct from Publisher

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress—a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633881327

Also by this author: Congress of Secrets

Genres: Alternative History, Cosy Horror, Historical Fiction, Historical-Fantasy


Published by Pyr

on 12th April, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 300

Published By: Pyr (@Pyr_Books)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Read the back-story about Masks and Shadows!

Read about the author’s next novel Congress of Secrets publishing November 2016!

Converse via: #MasksAndShadows

About Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

Stephanie Burgis was born in Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband, writer Patrick Samphire, and their children. Before becoming a fulltime writer, she studied music history as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, and worked as a website editor for a British opera company.

She has published over thirty short stories for adults. Kat, Incorrigible (US)/A Most Improper Magick (UK) won the Waverton Good Read Children’s Award in 2011 for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer. It was followed by Renegade Magic/A Tangle of Magicks and Stolen Magic/A Reckless Magick.

Photo Credit: Patrick Saphire

My Review of Masks and Shadows:

Charlotte has decided to visit her younger sister Sophie whilst she’s ensconced in a decidedly different affair than her sister allocated at being proper but evenso, as sister’s go, Sophie has such a spirit about her to charm Charlotte into staying with her even if she’s troubled by the truth of what she’s found out. The differences are a bit great given their time of living, as Charlotte believed Sophie was attached to Court in a proper fashion not as the known mistress to a Prince, especially as she’s married yet her husband has carted off someplace Charlotte couldn’t help but wonder as to where. We enter their conversation as if we’re their long lost friends as they reveal a bit of their personalities whilst trying to sort each other out. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 18th Century, Alternative History, ARC | Galley Copy, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Castles & Estates, Cosy Horror, Cosy Horror Suspense, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Indie Author, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Opera, Prometheus Books, Vulgarity in Literature