Review: The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello

The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control. She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval. The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons. But all of this changes in one historical instant.

One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own. Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love. But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.

When Liz finds a time-worn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria.

It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own…

Title: The Empress Chronicles
Author: Suzy Vitello
Publication date: September 4, 2014

I received a review copy of The Empress Chronicles in exchange for an honest review.

The Empress Chronicles begins very slowly. When a book is marketed as being an interwoven story, you kind of want to get to that. Instead there’s lots of backstory for both Liz and Sisi which makes their characters richer but also slows the story down. I can’t quite explain how or why more well-developed characters is a bad thing, but in this book it just doesn’t work particularly well. There’s a point when you just want to get on with it and I reached that point fairly early in the book.

About a third of the way into the book the locket finally makes its first appearance! The book synopsis makes it seem like the diary and the locket are a much bigger part of the story than they actually are. They don’t really become important until near the end, which makes me think that this book and all of that backstory is mainly setup for what’s coming in the second book.

I can’t say I really cared for either of the main characters. This seems to be a pattern for me — disliking characters dealing with difficult issues, and empathy and patience is probably something I should work on. Liz has OCD with secondary anorexia which sounds pretty interesting but in reality it just means a lot of talk about her dislike of dirt…and cats.

You don’t like cats?

I don’t like you.

So I pretty much wrote her off the minute she got to the goat farm. I do sympathize with her, however, for having to go live with her father and his girlfriend Willow, a hippie-type with her own obsession, which is avoiding gluten. I probably wouldn’t last five minutes in the house with Willow. She’s well-intentioned but irritating and there’s also the fact that Liz’s father left her mother for Willow.

Elisabeth, more commonly called Sisi, is a girl ill-prepared for her future, although her parents are somewhat to blame for that. Her mother never even filled her in on menstruation! She first learned of it when she got her first period. Sisi was not supposed to be married off to the future Emperor/King anyway; that was her older sister’s destiny. Alas, he choose Sisi, and Sisi has no real choice at all.

The pace of The Empress Chronicles picks up significantly when Willow’s brother Cory moves to the farm. Cory conveniently speaks German and can translate the pages of Sisi’s diary for Liz, and they even strike up an unexpected friendship. I’m not sure if it’s going to take a romantic turn in future books, but I hope not. I like Liz a lot more when she’s around Cory, but they both have enough to deal with without adding relationship drama to the mix, and I’d like them to remain just friends.

Sisi’s story finally begins to move along around this point, too, however it still drags in comparison to Liz’s. There are a lot more characters on her end and I couldn’t keep up with them all, nor did I care about them. Sisi is a much happier character earlier in her life and in the book. As she matures, she must learn to fit into society and being a reluctant Empress can’t be easy. It seems that she and Liz are and will be going in different directions emotionally.

The ending is left open and there’s potential for all of the storylines to continue on in all kinds of crazy directions. I have my suspicions on where some of them will go!

3 1/2 stars



  1. I won’t read it now, but I’ll keep an eye on that series 😉
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