It’s the Belle Époque, a last period of elegant dress and luxurious dining before WWI. Into this world of privilege steps Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister, Alice, to do battle–one each knows will end in death, but for which one? Will Lia find the meaning of the prophecy and save the world? Only MICHELLE ZINC, author of the trilogy, knows.
I don’t do reviews. There are already so many well-qualified reviewers online that I prefer to “feature” authors I enjoy reading. I love how Michelle has managed to capture the language and flavor of the period without making the prose seem contrived or difficult. I feel that this is one the greatest strengths of her both GUARDIAN OF THE GATE and PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS, the first book in her trilogy. She manages to pull me in that world of beautifully dressed men and women who dine, rather than eat and who carry themselves with grace even when confronting evil. Doesn’t that whet your appetite?
Here’s a quick peek at the story if my description hasn’t grabbed you.
“Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy that has divided her family for generations, her twin sister, Alice, works to hone the skills she’ll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister’s role in the prophecy, and that’s not the the only thing she wants. There’s also Lia’s beloved James.” Guardian of the Gate
So we’ve got a fight to the death between twin sisters, a mysterious prophecy to grapple with AND love all presented in some beautiful prose. What more does a reader need?
The only thing I can think of is some suitably paired Belle Époque cuisine. My palate immediately demanded Pheasant, so I went to my shelf, which bows a bit from hefty books about preparing food. I’ve only made this dish once. It’s labor intensive and bagging the pheasant took days–actually I can’t shoot anything except my foot. I’m not a hunter, so I did my “pheasant bagging” at a market. My guests said this dish was fab, so I’m passing it on as the food I’d select to compliment this lovely novel.
Breast of Pheasant Sous Cloche (Under Glass)
From Roy Alciatore of Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans (circa 1940), found in A Treasury of Great Recipes, by Mary and Vincent Price
4 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp butter
2-1/2 cups brown sauce
2 Tbsp truffles, minced
1/4 cup Madeira
4 slices bread
For the Pheasant:
1. Preheat oven to moderate (350°F; 175°C).
2. Rub the cavities and skin of 2 ready-to-cook pheasants with the cut side of 1/2 lemon. Season inside and out with salt and pepper.
3. In a heavy pan melt: 4 tablespoons butter. Brown the birds on all sides.
4. Place pan in the oven. Baste birds with pan juices every 10 minutes and roast about 30 minutes for average-sized pheasants. Remove and keep warm.
For the Sauce:
In a saucepan heat: 2-1/2 cups brown sauce. Let it simmer until it has reduced about one-quarter. Add: 1/4 cup Madeira and 2 tablespoons minced truffles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the Presentation:
1. Cut into rounds: 4 slices bread and toast them.
2. Sauté: the 2 pheasant livers gently in 2 tablespoons butter. Mash well and spread liver and butter on the toast rounds.
3. Carve pheasants so you have 4 breasts.
4. Place a roasted breast of pheasant on each round of toast. Cover with the sauce and place glass bell over each dish. Serve at once.
Yield: Serves 4