The Riddle of Prague by Laura DeBruce
When 18-year-old Hana Silna travels to Prague to reclaim her family’s home, she discovers a riddle that may lead to a long-last flask.
The contents of that flask could change the fate of the world. When a ruthless enemy kidnaps her family Hana has to find the flask to rescue them. On her quest she meets a mysterious man with a penchant for poetry, a Gypsy girl with a haunting past, and Alex, an all-American boy who’s trying to save his sister from a crippling disease. It’s hard to trust anyone when the stakes are this high — especially when surrounded by experts in deception.
There’s only one flask, and Hana desperately needs to find it.
The American girl arrives in Prague today. Finally! Finally things will happen. Everything will change.
I possess secrets—old and valuable secrets. Never mind, for now, who I am or what my name is. Those things have never mattered much. I am history’s silent witness and its victim. And I confess, here in the dark, that I am also a perpetrator of crimes. Ruthless, bloody crimes.
Straw into gold, water into wine, blood into life! I have long witnessed Prague’s obsession with alchemy. Now it is my turn! I shall become like quicksilver. I shall transform secrets into power and power into money.
The American girl arrives today, and soon terrible things will happen. At the end of it all, I will be free.
Move over Madonna and other one-name celebrities. Elizabeth Jane Weston, known as Westonia, rocked the male-dominated world of Neo-Latin poetry over four hundred years ago.
At a time when many women weren’t educated, much less able to write in Latin, she faced prejudice from the powers-that-be.
Lipsius, one of The Philosophers in Rubens’ painting, dismissed her as “that English girl” and concluded that “the female sex is not to be trusted, they’re more surface than substance.”
Westonia probably wanted to respond like current rock star, Lily Allen: “You’ll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen.” Except she had to appeal to men’s sense of chivalry to succeed, and that meant playing up her qualities as a woman. She referred to herself as a “wretch” to invoke sympathy and from the men she needed to protect her.
Facing near financial ruin caused by her stepfather, the notorious alchemist Edward Kelley, Westonia used her gift of language to appeal to Emperor Rudolf II:
“What I beg is that you not let a wretched maiden…perish under the weight of an unfair evil.”
Eventually, the authorities recognized her as a great talent, but they made sure to emphasize her womanly virtues.
“Behold Jane…genius, piety, virtue, industry, the Muses and a virgin’s morals…” wrote Nicholas Maius.
And they expressed astonishment that such talent came from a woman.
“You are an illustrious miracle of your sex,” gushed, Matthias Zuber, crowned Poet Laurete of the day. “What did Nature deny you, learned Westonia? Nothing. Aside from your being born a woman.”
And that from her greatest fans.
To her critics who accused her of plagiarism, Westonia asked, “Why do you hack a poor girl more sharply than any sword?” Or, in other words, it’s hard out here…for a wretch.
About the Author
Laura DeBruce is a documentary filmmaker and writer. She grew up traveling all over the world thanks to her father’s work with the U.S. Embassy. She and her husband spent twelve years living in Europe including Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and London where she found inspiration to write The Quicksilver Legacy Series. In Prague she worked as a lawyer for the first private nationwide television station in the former Communist bloc. It was there that she fell in love with the ancient city of Prague and its legends.
She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and son and an unruly Golden Retriever.
Website with blog and trailer: http://theriddleofprague.com/
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