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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 prepare 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?


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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 prepare 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?

30 review for Muse

  1. 4 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    for a country who escaped monarchy we sure are fascinated with the possibility of being a monarchy ourselves

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Set in an alternate history World's Fair Chicago, where America is a monarchy, science is king, and magic shouldn't exist - and one girl's touch has the power to grant wishes. h he hel hell hell y hell ye hell yes hell ye hell y hell hel he h | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram Set in an alternate history World's Fair Chicago, where America is a monarchy, science is king, and magic shouldn't exist - and one girl's touch has the power to grant wishes. h he hel hell hell y hell ye hell yes hell ye hell y hell hel he h | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A long time ago, I read the very beginning of this book, then had to wait years for the rest. Well, I finally got to read the rest, and it's everything I hoped for. Both smart and strange, and at turns romantic as it is furious, with writing that crackles and characters sharply drawn in varying shades of gray. Claire& Beatrix& Nikola& Perpetua& Remy forever. Will review in greater detail when we're closer to release, but for now, historical fantasy and alternate history fans get this one on your rad A long time ago, I read the very beginning of this book, then had to wait years for the rest. Well, I finally got to read the rest, and it's everything I hoped for. Both smart and strange, and at turns romantic as it is furious, with writing that crackles and characters sharply drawn in varying shades of gray. Claire& Beatrix& Nikola& Perpetua& Remy forever. Will review in greater detail when we're closer to release, but for now, historical fantasy and alternate history fans get this one on your radars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    3 stars but... Underwhelming. A story taking place around the 1898 Chicago World's Fair in an alternate history America where George Washington became king, with a main character who longs to escape her father (he keeps her like Mother Gothel because he believes she has magic that helps him) and gets embroiled in the middle of duelling Governorships on the brink of a civil war of sorts... the plot was intriguing. The sentence crafting was beautiful and I have a decent amount of highlights. But h 3 stars but... Underwhelming. A story taking place around the 1898 Chicago World's Fair in an alternate history America where George Washington became king, with a main character who longs to escape her father (he keeps her like Mother Gothel because he believes she has magic that helps him) and gets embroiled in the middle of duelling Governorships on the brink of a civil war of sorts... the plot was intriguing. The sentence crafting was beautiful and I have a decent amount of highlights. But honestly? The majority of it was rather dull. The main character was infuriatingly passive and did not have a strong enough or interesting enough voice to make me feel a part of her world/story. I would have rather heard the story from her best friend's point of view. Some characters are unbelievably disingenuous and there are turns that are inconsistent and seem more a device to propel the plot forward. Like the "romance" - what? I wasn't really drawn into this one until the last 1/3 or so. Everything in the end was pretty exciting, but given that the first 2/3 dragged a bit, it ended up feeling rushed and I was a little shocked when I hit that last page and there was no more. That having been said, I WANTED more. It was a little frustrating haha. But I guess that says something - I want to know what happens! Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the ARC!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rayne ♥

    THIS COVER COULD SLAP ME AND I WOULD SMILE BECAUSE I WAS HIT BY SUCH BEAUTY. Seriously, that cover is so amazing, I just want to marry it. instagram | goodreads THIS COVER COULD SLAP ME AND I WOULD SMILE BECAUSE I WAS HIT BY SUCH BEAUTY. Seriously, that cover is so amazing, I just want to marry it. instagram | goodreads

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight I quite enjoyed Muse, once I got into it. I do love a historical book, even better when it's alternate history and I can see all the Easter eggs from the real history. I definitely liked more than I didn't in this one, so let's break it down! The Yays: ►Very cool setting!  I mean, 1893 World's Fair but like, Alt-World's Fair, in Alt-Chicago? Yes please! That is pretty great, frankly. E You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight I quite enjoyed Muse, once I got into it. I do love a historical book, even better when it's alternate history and I can see all the Easter eggs from the real history. I definitely liked more than I didn't in this one, so let's break it down! The Yays: ►Very cool setting!  I mean, 1893 World's Fair but like, Alt-World's Fair, in Alt-Chicago? Yes please! That is pretty great, frankly. Even more exciting because so much was happening from a technological perspective, with the invent of both auto and air travel, it must have been something special. Also, Tesla is involved. It's just fascinating, even as alternative history (perhaps because it's alternative history, even). ►Couldn't help but root for Claire. Wow does Claire need a better life, stat. I mean, things weren't great for women in the 1800s anyway, but they're even worse in Alt-merica. Women are still property, and Claire finds that her only options are living under her abusive father's rule, or marry some rando and live under his rule. Those sound like absolute trash choices, so you can see why Claire was desperate. I loved her having the chance to get out from under that oppression and finally make her own choices, at least a bit. ►Claire's father can go float himself. Idk why this is a positive, perhaps mostly that I just need to read the sequel in the hopes that this guy meets a tragic end? I hate him. He not only treats Claire like utter garbage, but he neglected her after her mother died, and is basically abusive to her now. Claire finally working against him is my favorite and that's the tea on that. ►I liked the political messiness. This is what happens when you just let whoever happened to genetically spawn first be in charge. It's a disaster, and only a mere 100 years into their little experiment, looks like the American Kingdom is facing a coup. It was a bit confusing at first, trying to figure out who was who (and why, see below), but I enjoyed all the backstabbing and plotting nonetheless. ►Beatrix. Claire's bestie Beatrix is kind of everything. The Nays: ►Okay but George Washington didn't have any sons. Look, I get that it is alternate history, but when you say that the Washington kingdom is passed on from father to son... and George historically had no biological offspring... I am going to need an explanation at least. Make up a son, Idk. (I guess technically there is a made up grandson, but no details as to the why/how.) But it irked me the whole time, because dude was bummed he couldn't reproduce and now we have a whole kingdom based on him reproducing, so. You can see my distress. Admittedly, this is probably something that won't bother you even a fraction of as much as it did me, so take it with a grain of salt. ►Also, a map would have been solid. Basically just a little more fleshing out of the world in general, is what I am saying. I loved the basic idea, but I just kind of wanted a little more information, and perhaps a look into how places became the way they were. See, the thing that, coupled with the above bulletpoint, made it hard for me to believe was that the entire premise of the world is so wildly different from how our country actually formed. Don't get me wrong, it's plausible with the right backstories and explanations, but with just a couple pages giving me some barebones facts, I had to suspend my disbelief quite a bit. ►'Twas a bit slow in places. I did enjoy the story, but it took me a bit to get into it, I admit. But, it also picked up quite a bit as the story went on, so if you find yourself struggling for the first quarter, it did improve significantly for me. ►I felt like the story should have been narrated in first person, perhaps? This is why: in many, many places in the story, we get little glimpses into Claire's thoughts, little bits that are in first person- her inner monologue, basically. Problem was, sometimes these weren't italicized or really given any indication that there was a change in narration, so that lead to me being confused. And also, if you're going to use the inner thought process that much, might as well just go all-out and do first. That is just my own personal opinion, and I am hopeful that the confusion will be corrected in the finished copy, so it hopefully won't be an issue in that regard! Bottom Line: An enjoyable alternate history which perhaps required a bit more development, still a solid and entertaining book with a sympathetic main character. I'm definitely curious enough to want to read the sequel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ᴀʙɪ☽

    DNF at about 50% What? I actually don't really get what I just read (or at least the 50% I read). First of all, this book is set in a world of If George Washington became a king instead of a president. Which was the absolute worse choice Cavallaro could possibly make. It basically ERASES the entirety of the Revolutionary War! She tries to justify this whole...problem in the 4 pages of the prologue, but no, no I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS. We worked almost 10 years to officially gain our f DNF at about 50% What? I actually don't really get what I just read (or at least the 50% I read). First of all, this book is set in a world of If George Washington became a king instead of a president. Which was the absolute worse choice Cavallaro could possibly make. It basically ERASES the entirety of the Revolutionary War! She tries to justify this whole...problem in the 4 pages of the prologue, but no, no I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THIS. We worked almost 10 years to officially gain our freedom and for what??? For George Washington to take a kingdom and call one of the Providences, St. Cloud? NO. It makes no fucking sense. And then we get introduced to our useless MC who I hate. She is the basis of annoying through and through. I don't like our love interest either, and I especially don't like any of our supporting characters. This was such a disappointment. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, as I loved the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. However ultimately, this fell flat for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    C/W:(view spoiler)[abusive parent, death of a parent, fire, animal abuse, scene where an eye injury is discussed, violence, kidnapping, drugging, threat of rape (hide spoiler)] I can honestly say that Muse was unlike anything else I've read. It's set in an alternate 1893 where the United States is actually the First American Kingdom and the provinces are poised for war. Claire's father is an inventor working on a new weapon that's going to be unveiled at the World's Fair. He believes that he can C/W:(view spoiler)[abusive parent, death of a parent, fire, animal abuse, scene where an eye injury is discussed, violence, kidnapping, drugging, threat of rape (hide spoiler)] I can honestly say that Muse was unlike anything else I've read. It's set in an alternate 1893 where the United States is actually the First American Kingdom and the provinces are poised for war. Claire's father is an inventor working on a new weapon that's going to be unveiled at the World's Fair. He believes that he can only succeed by regularly receiving blessings from Claire, who lives a suffocating life stuck mostly at home as a result. When Claire's plans for escape are thwarted, she ends up in the middle of something much more complicated than just being her father's unwilling assistant. The First American Kingdom was a rich, evocative setting for Claire's story. I'm a sucker for a World's Fair and really enjoyed the historical figures, like Nikola Tesla, that were sprinkled throughout the book. One of the things that always stands out in Cavallaro's books is how great the writing is and Muse was no exception. The sentence-level craft was amazing and the world building was well integrated into the larger story. My frustration with Muse stemmed largely from our main character, Claire. She is an incredibly passive protagonist, leading much of the story to happen to her rather than as a result of her actions. One on hand, this made sense because Claire exists in a world where women have very few opportunities to exercise power of any kind. That said, it made for an irritating reading experience to see Claire basically pushed from one plot point to the next. (view spoiler)[Based off how this book ended, I think that this won't be an issue in the sequel. (hide spoiler)] The last third of Muse was action-packed and definitely left me curious to see where the story is going next. The rich setting and interesting premise made the book an overall entertaining reading experience even though I was frustrated with Claire as a protagonist. I'd recommend this for readers who are willing to be a bit patient. I know I'm certainly excited to see what book 2 has in store. Thank you Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara (A Gingerly Review)

    I live for these What if...? stories that give voice to what could have been... but this story wasn't one I would be writing home about. There were parts that drug on, the ending was far too quick, and not everything felt fully developed. Will I continue the series? You bet your sweet tush I will. I live for these What if...? stories that give voice to what could have been... but this story wasn't one I would be writing home about. There were parts that drug on, the ending was far too quick, and not everything felt fully developed. Will I continue the series? You bet your sweet tush I will.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free* Historical fiction and I have a rocky relationship. I've found a few that I've absolutely adored, but I tend to be really picky about which ones I liked. So, going into this one, I wasn't sure where my opinion would land. But, it had such an interesting concept. A girl, perhaps with magical abilities, torn between helping her father or helping the Governor who's taken her captive. Or finally helping herself. Plus, there was the intrigue of the World's Fair and all the inventions it *Spoiler free* Historical fiction and I have a rocky relationship. I've found a few that I've absolutely adored, but I tend to be really picky about which ones I liked. So, going into this one, I wasn't sure where my opinion would land. But, it had such an interesting concept. A girl, perhaps with magical abilities, torn between helping her father or helping the Governor who's taken her captive. Or finally helping herself. Plus, there was the intrigue of the World's Fair and all the inventions it would hold. It sounded really, really interesting, and I wanted to give it a try. Trigger warnings: parental abuse (physical and emotional) I hate saying that I didn't love a book, but I didn't love this book. Yes, it was interesting, but there were just a good number of things that I didn't particularly love. I'll start of with the things I did like, though! One of them was the writing. It felt so smooth and it made it easy to fly through the book. Another thing that I liked was the Fair and the inventions inside it. I would have loved for those things to be even more prevalent in the book, but they were still fascinating! I also loved Beatrice, who is Claire's best friend. She's a queer inventor, who's close to reaching flight with one of her inventions. She was just an all around great character. Alright, moving onto the things that I didn't love as much. I felt like this book moved both too fast and too slow. I think I was expecting for something more explosive. I thought there would be more of the inventions, more emphasis on Claire's supposed gift. But, I felt like those things were on the back burner for most of the book. I felt like they were lingering questions instead of aspects integrated into the book. This made it frustrating to watch where Claire's story went, because I thought that there could be so much more to it. Though, that's just my personal opinion! Another thing that really threw me off was the romance. When the word "love" was thrown out there I was floored. I felt like there was no romantic connection happening at all, and suddenly love was being talked about. I felt like there was barely even a friendship. It was frustrating because I didn't get why Claire's loyalties fell where they did. Really, I felt like the romance didn't need to be there at all and I didn't get why it was included. I think it could've been a great one, but I felt like the development wasn't really there. I'm realizing that there were a lot of things about this book that frustrated me, haha. It felt kind of like a modgepodge of a few different plot points. There was Claire's father, Claire's captivity with the Governor, the politics at play, Claire's supposed powers, and the inventions that needed to be completed. I felt like they struggled for attention and the focus should have been on only one or maybe a few of them.  All in all, this book wasn't quite for me. But, that doesn't mean it won't be for you! If you like inventions and historical fiction and political intrigue, then I urge you to check this book out!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hayden (bookish.hayden)

    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 in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape. But when things go awry at the fair, Claire's plans burn up in flames. Taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler, Claire is suddenly allies with a powerful man. Left with the choice to hide in th 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 in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape. But when things go awry at the fair, Claire's plans burn up in flames. Taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler, Claire is suddenly allies with a powerful man. Left with the choice to hide in the shadows, or burn it all down in flames, Claire must be her own muse. CW: abusive parent, harassment, kidnapping, death of a parent (prior to events of novel), drugging. Claire was a lovely leading lady, she was strong and knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it. That being said, there were times where she felt like a passive narrator, and that things were out of her control, but that felt accurate to women of the time period. Claire's father is garbage and I hate him, he's an abusive ass. Beatrix is wonderful, a badass, eye-patch wearing, inventor. Remy is great and I liked how complex of a character he was. Nikola Tesla was a cutie! (what a weird sentence to type) Every character was well written and interesting. The setting was lovely. The time period of 1893 was gorgeous and well done. I think historical reimagines can be tough, but this one worked! Plot wise this book was interesting, though at times there was a lot going on. This book is the first in a series, and there definitely was a lot of set up in this. But it was done very well, and I really enjoyed it. The politics were incredibly messy, the world itself a lot to take in, but a lot of fun. This was very well written and intriguing the entire time. It was more slow to medium paced, which I think worked for this story. Things just really amped up as we went! I really really enjoyed this and so recommend it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    *Source* Publisher *Genre* Young Adult / Alt History / Fantasy *Rating* 3.5-4 *Thoughts* 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. In 1782, after winning the war for Independence, George Washington makes the decision to become a King thus begins the First American Kingdom. It is also decreed that the c *Source* Publisher *Genre* Young Adult / Alt History / Fantasy *Rating* 3.5-4 *Thoughts* 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. In 1782, after winning the war for Independence, George Washington makes the decision to become a King thus begins the First American Kingdom. It is also decreed that the country will be separated into provinces, each led by a Governor selected from Washington's trusted lieutenants. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews* https://gizmosreviews.blogspot.com/20...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Skye ~ Court of Binge Reading

    Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review The premise of this story is unique. Imagine a world where George Washington decided to become a king and re-establish the monarchy in America. It’s 1893, war is on the horizon for those in the First American Kingdom. War, however, is the least of Claire Emerson’s worries. Her top priority is finding a way to escape her father, an inventor who has gone mad. Her father believes Claire can make his dreams and invent Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review The premise of this story is unique. Imagine a world where George Washington decided to become a king and re-establish the monarchy in America. It’s 1893, war is on the horizon for those in the First American Kingdom. War, however, is the least of Claire Emerson’s worries. Her top priority is finding a way to escape her father, an inventor who has gone mad. Her father believes Claire can make his dreams and inventions a success through her touch and blessing. As a result of this, he keeps her close by at all times. He also blames her if anything ever goes amiss with his inventions. Her father is progressively getting worse as the World Fair’s opening gets closer. He is to debut a revolutionary weapon at the fair, and he needs Claire to ensure it is successful. Long story short, things don’t go the way her father had planned. And Claire’s escape plan is ruined when the Governor takes her captive due to his curiosity about her abilities. Okay, I’m going to be brutally honest here: I didn’t love this story, nor did I hate it. I feel ambivalent towards it. I love the central idea for this book; the execution fell a bit flat for me. It was hard for me to feel a connection with the characters. It was also hard for me to root for the romance; it didn’t feel organic or realistic. Instead, the romance felt like a plot device the author was using to move the plot forward. That being said, I plan on checking out the sequel when it comes out. I’m curious to see what the author has in store for the characters. Overall, I found this story to be interesting. I love the way the author incorporated women’s rights into this book. Claire and her friend, Beatrix, both want more out of their lives than what is allowed for women in 1839. It was nice to see Claire grow and become more outspoken about what she wanted for her life. If you’re a fan of history, then I think you should definitely check out this book! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the author’s reimagined version of America.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe Sacksteder

    I don't reads tons of YA literature because so often it goes beyond the formulaic to consist of nothing but strung-together signifiers of edginess, of love, of against-all-odds-ness. But here's a book so unique that it clears new grounds of possibility for a genre, taking what we know we love about the Chicago World's Fair, the figure of Tesla, and fin de siecle awfulness and promise and jolting it with traces of magical realism and steampunk to create new ways of seeing the past, the future, an I don't reads tons of YA literature because so often it goes beyond the formulaic to consist of nothing but strung-together signifiers of edginess, of love, of against-all-odds-ness. But here's a book so unique that it clears new grounds of possibility for a genre, taking what we know we love about the Chicago World's Fair, the figure of Tesla, and fin de siecle awfulness and promise and jolting it with traces of magical realism and steampunk to create new ways of seeing the past, the future, and a whole genre of literature. By troubling the simple binary of YA and "literary fiction," Cavallaro breaks down our learnt assumptions about the differences between age groups, along with all the attendant, tacit notions of hierarchy. The heroic female protagonists in this book are suspect enough to make them three-dimensional and thought provoking, and the men of the book are compelling and resistant to caricature. Tesla is a delight, of course. What an achievement "Muse" is, and I can't wait for the sequel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Francis

    WoRlD's FaIr WoRlD's FaIr

  16. 5 out of 5

    Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard

    hell yes to everything about this

  17. 4 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Muse started out promising: a rare YA where the heroine is understated and has to use her brains in order to navigate a world determined to keep her helpless. But a very slow first half morphed into a second half that built so much momentum that the ending felt both rushed and unsatisfying. There is an arc here but it felt manufactured. Story: It's 1893 and Claire Emerson's province is celebrating - and posturing - thr More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Muse started out promising: a rare YA where the heroine is understated and has to use her brains in order to navigate a world determined to keep her helpless. But a very slow first half morphed into a second half that built so much momentum that the ending felt both rushed and unsatisfying. There is an arc here but it felt manufactured. Story: It's 1893 and Claire Emerson's province is celebrating - and posturing - through a grand World's Fair. The province's governor is young and untested, leaving the area ripe for a war and brutal takeover by a neighboring State. Claire's father has created a giant canon exhibition for the governor and the fair to discourage a coup or takeover. But unbeknownst to the world, her father believes Claire is the key to the exhibition's success through her ability to 'bless' good fortune. When the canon fails, she comes under the close scrutiny of the young governor and must learn to fight and stand up for herself. For in this game of politics, the stakes are life and death. So what we have here is an alternate universe America where Washington decided on a monarchy rather than a democracy. Governors and the Kingship are hereditary positions leading to strife and posturing. There is a lot of scheming in the book as various political or non political individuals jockey for favors or prominence. This includes military generals, suffragettes, governors and inventors. The characters are diverse and each followed their own desires. This led to many twists and turns, betrayals, surprises, and reveals. But it also meant that characters had very abrupt personality changes that felt both unrealistic and disingenuous - there to give a plot change rather than a natural and organic response to events. Several times I was pulled out of the plot because a character did a complete reversal on their stance and I had to reread to confirm the improbable. That said, I did like that characters were neither too good nor too evil - they were all at the mercy of their intellectual desires and needs. The love story in this first volume was similarly odd. It was an instaluv that never turned into a romance. Very odd - and very unsatisfying. I'm sure it will grow and change in future volumes but for now, I had a hard time believing any of the confessions of affection. Or the abrupt falling out of love. Similarly, this had an odd friendship between Claire and Beatrix; one built more on familiarity than mutual respect and affection. Finally, a really problematic issue for me is the art deco (1920/1930s) cover image for what is a Victorian era (1890s) setting. It's like writing a book set in the 1950s and showing an image of 1970s disco balls and leisure suits. Even for an alternate universe where timelines may not match, the setting in the book is clearly Victorian era and not roaring 20s. I have to wonder if the artist mistook the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair for the 1898 Chicago World's Fair. In all, I applaud the interesting characters, especially at the beginning. I just wish they were more realistic and consistent in their growth and responses. Similarly, with the plot, I wish it was paced better and without the very abrupt and unsatisfying end of this first volume. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pine Reads Review

    “If she survived the next two days…she might just have a throne. Or, at least, be the power behind it.” Claire Emerson has never been allowed to decide for herself what she wants in life. It’s 1893 in the First American Kingdom, and all Claire can hope for the future is to marry a man who isn’t horrible to her. Unfortunately, her inventor father believes that her touch is magical and refuses to let her leave. As the young Governor opens the gates of the World’s Fair and people stream into the pro “If she survived the next two days…she might just have a throne. Or, at least, be the power behind it.” Claire Emerson has never been allowed to decide for herself what she wants in life. It’s 1893 in the First American Kingdom, and all Claire can hope for the future is to marry a man who isn’t horrible to her. Unfortunately, her inventor father believes that her touch is magical and refuses to let her leave. As the young Governor opens the gates of the World’s Fair and people stream into the province of St. Cloud, Claire’s father prepares to reveal the vicious weapon he’s created. But when the weapon fails to fire on command, Claire is taken captive by the Governor and thrust into a world of political machinations with threats around every turn. Worse still, war is brewing between St. Cloud and their neighboring province, and the women’s resistance movement that Claire’s best friend is a part of is growing more and more dangerous. If Claire wants a chance to shape her future, she must choose her allies carefully, learn to control her mysterious ability, and finally step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Inventive and fiercely feminist, Muse is a bright historical fiction that’s not to be missed. With creative characters and a thoroughly developed plot that kept me guessing throughout the novel, I was on the edge of my seat as I devoured the twists and turns of this intriguing story. Claire is an admirable heroine as she fights to find her place in the world, and the push-and-pull romance was maddeningly enticing. Claire’s best friend Beatrix is also a fantastic character; a queer, feminist inventor full of courage, I found myself smiling every time she made an appearance. Additionally, the world itself is very well-built. The First American Kingdom is a fascinating backdrop, and the World’s Fair is a fun and innovative setting that made me wish I could explore it myself. Fans of imaginative YA historical fiction novels will love this powerful book. Content Warnings: Emotional and physical parental abuse, kidnapping, gun violence, blood, animal abuse, underage drinking, threat of sexual assault, death of a loved one, drugging, sexism, eye injury (Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @pinereadsreview and check out our website at www.pinereadsreview.com for reviews, interviews, blogs, podcast episodes, and more!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deja

    Muse was an interesting subversion of the "girl with a magic touch" trope, and though I was not a fan of the (almost instantaneous and out-of-left-field) romance and the politics were a bit muddy, the overall concept was enjoyable and leaves potential for an even more engaging sequel. I adored the alternate-Chicago World's Fair setting, having grown up in Chicago myself and noticing the real life geographic details that remain despite the change in universe and time period. The American Monarchy Muse was an interesting subversion of the "girl with a magic touch" trope, and though I was not a fan of the (almost instantaneous and out-of-left-field) romance and the politics were a bit muddy, the overall concept was enjoyable and leaves potential for an even more engaging sequel. I adored the alternate-Chicago World's Fair setting, having grown up in Chicago myself and noticing the real life geographic details that remain despite the change in universe and time period. The American Monarchy idea has been explored in a few books I've read, but I especially enjoyed it in this historical timeline. The friendship between Claire and Beatrix was one of my highlights - I loved that the girls could bicker and disagree, but loved each other dearly regardless. Beatrix would have been a far more compelling main character, and the more expected one given the genre, but I think the choice to make Claire our protagonist was to add to the overall feminist message that women don't need to be outwardly headstrong fighters in order to be the heroes of our stories.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily Kazmierski

    This was so interesting. The world the author has created drew me in immediately. I was already intrigued by the Chicago World’s Fair and am even more so now. I want to spend more time there ASAP. The main character is a girl who up until the start of the story hasn’t discovered her power. She’s thrust along by her father and other powerful men in her life, but over the course of the story that changes. I rooted for her to step into her own, to stand up for herself, and to maneuver out of the rig This was so interesting. The world the author has created drew me in immediately. I was already intrigued by the Chicago World’s Fair and am even more so now. I want to spend more time there ASAP. The main character is a girl who up until the start of the story hasn’t discovered her power. She’s thrust along by her father and other powerful men in her life, but over the course of the story that changes. I rooted for her to step into her own, to stand up for herself, and to maneuver out of the right spots she finds herself in. And by the end, she’s come into her own. I want to know what happens to her next! The only critique I had was that the book seemed a little short. In particular, I would have liked the romance between her and Remy to be fleshed out a bit more. She went from hating him to loving him quickly. However, since every other man in her life is cruel and inconsiderate, I can see how she arrives in that place with Remy. I’m ready for book two!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Claire

    I will go ahead and say that I was not very fond of this book. I was hesitant about the concept of rewriting American history at first when i read the summary, but ultimately decided that it could be really cool and interesting. However, that being said I was rather underwhelmed and a bit disappointed with Muse. The first 95 ish pages were extremely slow, and not much happened at all. When there finally was some action around page 1/3 of the way in (which was acting as the main catalyst for the I will go ahead and say that I was not very fond of this book. I was hesitant about the concept of rewriting American history at first when i read the summary, but ultimately decided that it could be really cool and interesting. However, that being said I was rather underwhelmed and a bit disappointed with Muse. The first 95 ish pages were extremely slow, and not much happened at all. When there finally was some action around page 1/3 of the way in (which was acting as the main catalyst for the rest of the book) it felt very rushed and unimportant. I was unable to form a connection with any of the characters and honestly could barley finish the book because i just didn't care about what happened to them. The main "romance" was very underdeveloped, unbelievable, and felt forced. Overall the concept ended up being very neat, it just wasn't for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Therese Thompson

    Muse is a fantasy, based on an alternate United States, in which George Washington agreed to rule as King beginning a dynasty of male rulers and governors overseeing provinces. This could lead you to believe it’s a story about men in charge. It’s actually a tale of women taking power back from the men who rule from their homes to palaces of power. The muse of the title is Claire, abjectly in the control of her crazed inventor father, tasked with creating a giant cannon to be displayed and demons Muse is a fantasy, based on an alternate United States, in which George Washington agreed to rule as King beginning a dynasty of male rulers and governors overseeing provinces. This could lead you to believe it’s a story about men in charge. It’s actually a tale of women taking power back from the men who rule from their homes to palaces of power. The muse of the title is Claire, abjectly in the control of her crazed inventor father, tasked with creating a giant cannon to be displayed and demonstrated at this alternate province’s World’s Fair (yes, Chicago’s with the skeleton of the Ferris Wheel looming incomplete in the background). But, is the inventor successful or does the true power lie in the ungloved touch of Claire’s hands to magically bless and make true the wishes of the man her hands are laid upon? A woman taking power and telling her own story. Very magical and not a fantasy!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    First book of 2021 that I had to quit. I read about 60% of this and I finally asked myself why I was forcing myself to suffer? For how little time I get to read I shouldn’t be taking the facial bruising of sleeping with phone on face from this book. Seriously don’t read it. I genuinely have no idea what was going on or why anything was important. I don’t really think it was. Disappointing too because it seemed like such a cool concept. The historical allusions and historical figures seemed so fu First book of 2021 that I had to quit. I read about 60% of this and I finally asked myself why I was forcing myself to suffer? For how little time I get to read I shouldn’t be taking the facial bruising of sleeping with phone on face from this book. Seriously don’t read it. I genuinely have no idea what was going on or why anything was important. I don’t really think it was. Disappointing too because it seemed like such a cool concept. The historical allusions and historical figures seemed so fun but nothing could make up for the lack of a cohesive plot or interesting narrative. Skip my friends.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Perchikoff

    Let’s start with the good, shall we? GOOD I really loved Claire! I loved her interactions with her friend, Beatrix, how she worked with Tesla, and how curious she was about everything around her. I liked that she never gave up despite her less-than-great circumstances. Like….the girl repelled down the side of building with a sheet! That’s pretty awesome! I also really liked how her… I don’t know how to say this in a good way, but how it was clear she was not very trusting of anyone because of her f Let’s start with the good, shall we? GOOD I really loved Claire! I loved her interactions with her friend, Beatrix, how she worked with Tesla, and how curious she was about everything around her. I liked that she never gave up despite her less-than-great circumstances. Like….the girl repelled down the side of building with a sheet! That’s pretty awesome! I also really liked how her… I don’t know how to say this in a good way, but how it was clear she was not very trusting of anyone because of her father’s abuse. It makes complete sense for her character and the way it was threaded throughout the story was very well done. As someone who has that exact same trait for similar reasons, I was like “ohhhh, yep, that holds true lol” ACTION!! I love an action anything: movie, book, TV show, so I loved all the action scenes in Muse. There’s a fire and then the characters are being lifted through the ceiling and onto the roof of another building. It was thrilling and fun. NOT MY FAVORITE The relationship between Claire and Remy didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t feel their chemistry and it happened too quickly. The dude is part of the reason why she’s stuck in the palace. I don’t care if he’s a nervous, awkward boy, you don’t fall for him! Remy was also simply not my cup of tea. I would have liked him as a supporting character vs a love interest. I fully expected Claire to end up with one of the guards protecting her and when it was clear she and Remy were the couple, I was a little let down. Claire’s father and what happens to him wasn’t satisfying either. Why did he become a priest? What did that do for the story? Besides Claire’s past abuse and him being the abuser, to me, he could have been cut from the book and it still would have been fine. Something was missing with his character. I also wanted more from the description of the World’s Fair. I wanted extravagance and description to match, but it fell short to me. And I think that goes for the worldbuilding in general. It didn’t feel complete or maybe it felt rushed. Idk. Overall, I liked Muse but I didn’t love it. Some parts were good, but after reading the whole book, I was mostly just disappointed. And I hate that. I’m giving it 3 stars. I don’t want this to discourage anyone from giving it a try because I know other people loved it. It just wasn’t for me. (TW: emotional and physical abuse mentioned, kidnapping) Muse by Brittany Cavallaro is out now! Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    I was fully prepared to give this a four star rating...until the last chapter, where almost every character behaved so uncharacteristically that I lost my hold on who any of them really were throughout the preceding narrative. But, I mean, it was okay until then.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

    this book is like eating wings. good, but i would've liked some more meat on the bones. this book is like eating wings. good, but i would've liked some more meat on the bones.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia

    If you're looking to read this for the alternate history where the United States is a monarchy, American Royals is better! If you're looking to read this for the alternate history where the United States is a monarchy, American Royals is better!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fernanda Granzotto

    Still don't know if I like the end of this book and don't know if I will continue with the series. It's a low 3 stars. Still don't know if I like the end of this book and don't know if I will continue with the series. It's a low 3 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    3.5 overall I was not a fan of the American republic turned monarchy alternate history that Cavallaro built. I’ve read a good many of these alternate history type YA books and didn’t find this one particularly interesting. The world was very loosely built and a bit confusing. Plus the main plot wasn’t my thing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Forever Young Adult

    Graded By: Rosemary Cover Story: Art Deco Delight BFF Charm: Eventually Swoonworthy Scale: 5 Talky Talk: Form Over Function Bonus Factor: American Monarchy Relationship Status: Reluctant Romance Read the full book report here. Graded By: Rosemary Cover Story: Art Deco Delight BFF Charm: Eventually Swoonworthy Scale: 5 Talky Talk: Form Over Function Bonus Factor: American Monarchy Relationship Status: Reluctant Romance Read the full book report here.

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