The year is 1887, and a case of mistaken identity pits the mad Emperor of Italy against the most dangerous adversary he never imagined—a modern American beauty of decidedly unmaidenly accomplishments!
In a world where golems are as real as flying machines, life can still be boring for a woman of considerable gifts and peculiar upbringing. A coded message from the poetically beautiful Nikola Tesla is Claude Monteith’s chance to do something important. How could the daughter of Queen Charlotte’s favourite spy anticipate that her unknown resemblance to a princess would set her on a collision course with Britain’s arch enemy, the self-proclaimed Caesar Augustus II?! Immersed in the lost knowledge of Egypt and commanding an army of deathless Amphoraeka, Augustus will stop at nothing to restore the Roman Empire, including kidnapping the heiress to the British crown.
Reluctantly partnering with a provocative Italian Englishman who lives under many names, Claude must draw on everything she knows to survive and thwart the Emperor’s designs. From her Chicago home to the old cities of Prague and Dubrovnik, through a highly irregular Hungarian forest and across the face of Italy, the twisting road to the Colosseum and the ultimate showdown is paved with prodigious threats and surprising allies.
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Who is Merle Darling?
Like many better authors before me, I understand that when you’re writing very different types of novel, you can cut the confusion for your readers by using pseudonyms. “Merle Darling” is my alter-ego who writes anything set in an alternative version of the 19th century. This is the “about author” information for Merle:
Merle Darling has been living in the imaginary 19th century since the age of seven, when she first read Little Women and The Secret Garden. This state of being was reinforced by a four-year stint at a 19th century college (complete with ivied walls and afternoon tea in the dormitory parlors) where she studied under fine 19th century scholars in the History and Theatre departments and learned to knit and bake bread.
Her home is in an iconic 20th century city. She writes on the train, as she has never successfully kept a diary and therefore has nothing sensational to read.
The World of the Upsilon Knot
The Upsilon Knot is set in the 19th century, but in a world that diverged from ours in 1687, when a child of England’s Queen Ann survived smallbox and changed the succession to the British throne.
More about this world, and some of the artifacts created to help describe it (maps, family trees, etc.) are gradually being posted on a website dedicated to this book.