Last year's A Sorcerous Treason introduced Medeoan, Dowager Empress of Isavalta—and the humangirl Bridget from the shores of Lake Superior who bested her in a contest of magic and will.

THE USURPER'S CROWN is the story of Medeoan's early life as a young sorceress-empress and of Avanasy, the sorcerer protector she banished when he protested her marriage. Avanasy travels through the Land of Death and Spirit and ends up at Sand Island, Wisconsin, where he falls in love with a fisherman's daughter and Bridget's future mother, Ingrid Loftfield.

When empress Medeoan uncovers treachery planned by her new husband, she escapes to The Heart of The World and awaits Avanasy's return. Avanasy and Ingrid are called to Isavalta and almost die when the Vixen and the Baba Yaga fight over Ingrid's soul. Avanasy is a powerful sorcerer, yet it is Ingrid who will be Isavalta's salvation—if she can bear the price.

Alternating between Wisconsin and the fantasy world of Isavalta, Sarah Zettel's heartrending tale offers fast-paced action, cleverly drawn characters, intrigue, romance and magic in which gods and goddesses don't hesitate to interfere. (Apr., 528 pp., $27.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper