The secret lies with the Heart.
Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora's only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd's mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.
Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity's sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater's stagemistress, is the key to finding it.
While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.
Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman
, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes
and National Treasure
, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.
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Heart of the Curiosity
by H.L. Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another delightful story from H.L. Burke! I loved the idea of everyone in that world having a "knack" and being able to do something magical and unique to each of them. If only! I would definitely take Muse's knack. I have dreams like that. This book is "steampunk" instead of fantasy, like many of Burke's other novels, and she does a wonderful job of weaving fun inventiony stuff into Leo's world. You will wish you could take in just one show at The Curiosity. A wonderful summer read for the YA audience, but I enjoyed it as well (and am definitely not YA!). Great lessons on what friendship and family really mean.
View all my reviews
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of
her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a
book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her
company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times
completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of
the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to
be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple
times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two
daughters, and pets are.
Interview with H. L. Burke
How did you get started writing?
I dictated a short story to my mom when I was five or six. I only remember that it was about rabbits and included the bit of dialogue, “Why is it always snowing at your house?” “Because I'm a snow rabbit.”
But I have always wanted to write or been writing. I used to write short stories based on the imagined adventures of myself and my friends. I also inserted us into Star Wars fanfic so we could hang out with our heroes. Ah, good times.
Other than a few small contests, I didn't really pursue it all that seriously, though. In my late teens I sent out some queries. Looking back, I know that the stuff I was writing then wasn't that good. Then marriage and kids happened, and while I still wrote, I focused more on blogging for several years.
The turn around point for me was NaNoWriMo 2012. I had a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old, but dangit, I was going to write a novel that year … so I did. Finding that I still had the time to create, when I'd been telling myself I didn't because of the kids, flipped a switch and I just kept going.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your books?
A sense of fun, a few laughs, and an urge to explore.
What inspired your story world?
I started out just interested in the idea of professional audience members, which led me to the idea of writing a story about show business folk, and I like contained settings, so I chose a theater. Once I knew I was going to write a story about a theater I also knew that I wanted it to be a treasure hunt and have Steampunk elements … it kind of just wrote itself from there.
When we moved from Florida to southern California a few years back, we became very familiar with the local snails. They’d crawl up the side of our house. They’d be in our driveway. I thought they were kind of cool (living in military housing and not taking care of our own landscaping, I didn’t have an opinion on them as garden pests or anything), but my daughter, who was five or six at the time, adored them. She started trying to keep them as pets with somewhat limited success. There were some good times (feeding them lettuce until their little bodies turned green) and some rough times (dead snails, very tragic … she once had one “run away” which must’ve been a momentous task for a snail, but she was always worried it would get eaten by birds now that she couldn’t look after it). She used to call herself the “Snail Master” and even though we had to leave them behind (because of yet another move, this one from California to Oregon) she still talks about her snail army.
What inspired the theater?
I’m not sure if there was any one inspiration. It’s kind of a mishmash of every theater I’ve been in or seen on a movie or TV. The tunnels beneath the theater with their death traps and puzzles definitely owe something to The Phantom of the Opera (the book. I’ve never actually seen the movie/play all the way through, though I know the music because it’s everywhere and from doing a school band version of some of it in high school … I’m not really a musicals person).
If you could have one of the knacks from your world, what would it be?
Creepy crawly charming. I could tell the spiders to keep their distance … or eat the mosquitoes. Or both.
Favorite writing fuel?
Pre-3pm, coffee, 3pm to 5pm tea, 5pm onward, red wine.
Social Media Links:
More Stops on the Blog Tour
Monday, June 24 – Cathrine Bonham, World Building Feature on Magical Knacks
Wednesday, June 26 – Nicki Chapelway, Character Interview https://nickichapelwayauthor.blogspot.com/
Thursday, June 27 – RELEASE DAY, Deborah O’Carroll, Book Spotlight, Book Review https://thepagedreamer.wordpress.com/
Friday, June 28 – Christina Morley, Book Review, Behind the Scenes on Book Theme http://abooksandmore.blogspot.com/
Saturday, June 29 – Gretchen Engel, Author Interview, Book Review, Behind the Scenes on Book Theme (author’s choice)
Sunday, June 30 – Savannah Jezowski, Book Spotlight, World Building Feature https://dragonpenpress.com/
Monday, July 1 – Patricia Mather Parker, Character Interview, Behind the Scenes on Book Theme; patriciamatherparker.com
Katy Huth Jones, Book Spotlight, Book Review katyhuthjones.blogspot.com
Tuesday, July 2 – Leya, Author Interview, Book Spotlight, Excerpt www.angeleya.com
Wednesday, July 3 – Jennette Mbewe, World Building Feature http://www.jlmbewe.com/blog/
Friday, July 5 – Deborah Dunson, Book Spotlight Https://www.tumblr.com/blog/readingontheedge
Saturday, July 6 – Brian Wilkerson, Author Interview, Book Spotlight http://trickstereric.blogspot.com/
Sunday, July 7 – Mark Hansen, Book Spotlight TheHerosTale.com
Monday, July 8 – Tabitha Caplinger, Behind the Scenes on Book Theme Tabithacaplinger.com