The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello | Book Review

Title: The Empress Chronicles
Author: Suzy Vitello
Genre: YA fantasy with historic elements
Published: 09/01/2014
Length: 284 pages
Format: ebook, paperback,
Buy At: Amazon

Summary: In this dazzling novel from the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future…

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control. She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval. The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons. But all of this changes in one historical instant.

One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own. Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love. But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.

When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria.

It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own…

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES.

My thoughts: Usually, I’m not very fond of books with a historical side, but this book managed to pleasantly surprise me. There are actually two stories interwoven in a subtle way. Therefore, we have two main characters. The first character, Liz, is a 15-year old teenager with obsessive-compulsive disorder that has to move with her father and his girlfriend after an unfortunate cleaning event, aka she burnt her hair by mixing the wrong cleaning supplies. The second story is centered on Elisabeth of Bavaria, or Sisi, and her transition from childhood to womanhood. Liz finds out about Elisabeth from her therapist that has Sisi’s journal.

I liked how Liz was portrayed. I really did feel like she was someone struggling with mental issues. I do have some obsessions with germs and the possibility of getting sick from them, so I can really relate to that. I liked how she tries to accommodate to her new life and she does a lot of progress.

Sisi’s story was also very interesting and I liked how the narrative voice changed when switching to her story. It really gave the impression of going back in time without being too much. I understand that Sisi’s childhood was not very documented, so it’s nice that the book tries to fill the void in that area and create a whimsical story. There were just enough fantasy elements peppered in various places without making the store far-fetched.

The therapy sessions depicted in the book didn’t seem like therapy sessions. I haven’t found yet a book with realistic therapy sessions, and not stuff people think happen in a therapy session. The therapist actually tries to make you see things in a different perspective and to challenge your own views or explore them further until you have a better understanding of your own behavior. With that understanding you can change the harmful parts of your behavior and become who you want to be. And I think therapy session scenes in book could be used to reveal interesting thoughts and beliefs of the characters.

I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to fantasy and YA fans.

My rating: 4.5 stars

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).

You can connect with Suzy on these websites:

Twitter: @suzy_vitello