Congress of Secrets
by Stephanie Burgis
Cover Artist: Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781633881990
Date: 01 November 2016 List Price $17.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Stephanie Burgis's latest novel, the Congress of Secrets set in Vienna, follows the political machinations after the fall of Bonaparte. Alchemy and old secrets hold sway as a rich English noblewoman seeks to find her imprisoned father held captive by the Emperor Francis Joseph. Her life and the lives of her father and her lover are at stake.
Caroline, Lady Wyndham, was sold at age fifteen to an English alchemist by Count Pergen, an alchemist and the head of the Viennese secret police. After four years of abuse by him and the emperor, she eventually marries a wealthy English lord and becomes his widow, the rich Lady Wyndham. Now she has returned to Vienna to find and free her father. She has also learned something of alchemy.
Charles, her secretary, is a budding alchemist anxious to learn everything he can about his chosen field any way he can. Caroline has promised to help him. When she performs a demonstration for him, he is impressed and determined to learn more. She is not happy and worries that channeling the dark power may ultimately make her vulnerable to losing herself.
Meanwhile, an old friend has also come to Vienna hoping to gain a fortune. He is masquerading as a prince of a small kingdom gobbled up by Bonaparte. He has no idea that Caroline survived the catastrophe that happened in their youth. He didn't know she and her father had been imprisoned.
Unfortunately, when the emperor sees Caroline dancing with a handsome man, he suspects her of lying and sets Pergen to find out who she really is. At the same time, the police are also searching for Michael aided by the manager of an acting troop. The troop helped Michael to enter Vienna undetected.
While Caroline is hoping to learn where her father is imprisoned, Michael is hoping to gain recognition for himself as a prince and the small kingdom he purports to represent. However, these tasks are not so easy when others are willing to betray them.
Attractive heroes, nasty villains, alchemy, and complex schemes drive the action and hold the reader's interest. This is the second such novel by Burgis. Her first was Masks and Shadows also set in Vienna.