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.
~ EXCERPT ~
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
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
He snorts and turns over, facing away from me.
Cory pops his face out. “Dude, you’re totally interrupting my amazing
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, Lizzie?”
“Don’t call me that.”
He holds his arm out, his chin gestures toward his shoulder, “Come
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 swoops in.
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