This book take place after Wildwood Dancing, focusing on Paula, one of the younger sisters from the previous book. Paula’s the family scholar, and after her father’s assistant falls ill, he asks her to come with him to Istanbul, where he’s been asked to find an artifact called Cybele’s Gift, for a wealthy client.
Istanbul is absolutely fascinating – Paula quickly meets an Portuguese sea capitain, a Greek woman who supports other women in scholarship, and a young Bulgarian man who they hire as her bodyguard. There’s a great deal of intrigue around Cybele’s Gift, and Paula and her father find themselves in real danger.
I really enjoyed this story – there’s a real flavor or Istanbul under the Ottomans that’s so much fun to see through Paula’s eyes. There’s no direct fairy tale link like there was in Wildwood Dancing, but the fairy realm is still there, and the link to the mythology of the goddess Cybele was well done. Like the other book, it’s technically a teen book, but is really just a good tale anyone could enjoy.