The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello
A Fantasy Novel published by Diversion Books (09/01/2014)
Two young women are separated by time. They are both at the height of their adolescence, growing and learning. What is expected of each is different because they are separated by 150 years, but both women want what they can’t have.
Liz wants to be normal, but is surrounded by an unstable environment and troubled with an obsessive-compulsive disorder with secondary anorexic symptoms. Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi) wants a man who is not in her future and will go to great lengths to try to change this destiny.
The two realities collide through a common diary, and a story of two ladies trying to control their own worlds is born.
Teens, Drama, Finding Yourself, Disorders, OCD, Family, Fitting In, Love
The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello was so raw and convincing that my real life was influenced by the abundance of sensory detail in the book. I had a chiropractor’s appointment and I was so enveloped in Liz’s character’s aversion to germs and dirt that I myself was so grossed out by the minuscule hand print left on the lie-down table that I had to have the entire surface wiped down for me. Vitello uses the senses unlike any other author in her novel The Empress Chronicles. She made me revolt against a normal amount of dirt, not to the point of obsessive-compulsiveness, but I emulated Liz’s symptoms. .
Vitello not only put me through the discomfort of Liz’s disorder, but also through the awkwardness of a teen coming of age, of the confusion that comes with divorce, and all the unpleasant thoughts and things that happen to teenagers. At times the language was hard and vulgar and into the nitty gritty of the unpleasant realities of a teen girl’s life.
It was as if the book was written about someone the author knew intimately, knew all about. Vitello describes classical music, horses and the intricacies of a teenager with the eye of someone who knows, who has seen this person. All that sensory information from someone living in a world of a disorder was detailed and knowledgeable.
I recently read a coming of age novel of a boy trying to grow into a man and I was very happy to read this book, a coming of age novel for a girl trying to become a woman. Not only that, I got two very different, yet very similar examples: Elisabeth Wittelsback and Liz.
I commiserated with both young ladies. Liz had a tendency to add drama to things when there wasn’t a reason, her imagination and reality wiggling together at times. For Sisi, “The world of pranks and misbehavior was past. Soon, I would be slathering on the beauty potions, quenching my hair in oils, and saving my smiles for what the governess called ‘appropriate occasions for mirth’ – a funny part in an opera. The antics of a young child.” (Location 1030).
Liz and Sisi were part of that limbo stage of beyond puberty, before adulthood that Sis describes as, “Not a child. Not a lady.” (Location 1201). I was very impressed with Vitello for giving her two teenagers life and vitality. Vitello didn’t settle for the easy angsty teen character who commits herself entirely to one bad decision. Teenagers (and adults for that matter) are not just one bad decision, they are many poor choices. Sometimes one of those bad decisions turns into a big mistake with big consequences. Authors tend to turn to the worst case scenario to build up the character of a mixed-up teen, but Vitello stuck with the everyday and the normal in real life. Liz makes a stupid error, brought out in part through her disorder, and part through her poor decision and lack of knowledge (all part of young adult life) and the results are grave, the consequences severe, resulting in a catapulting in her life that begins the story. Vitello used a real teen’s thought process resulting in bad consequences. A logical event with a grave conclusion. Teens are not always at their worst, just make some bad decisions at times. But it only takes one bad decision to have the worst case results.
“The real tragedy to one’s soul is regret.” (Location 2309).
I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a coming of age novel starring a female (two females actually), two tales interwoven into one story, or a story featuring young teen-girl drama
This novel was published by Diversion Books 09/01/2014 and is available on Amazon here.
TLDR Star Rating: 4.25
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