Iron and Lace by Ellie Tupper
In 1890s San Francisco, a spirited young Irish housemaid and an Imperial Chinese agent join forces to bring down a ruthless tycoon.
Feisty Norah Hourigan has taken a position as housemaid in the home of Hector Gaffney, businessman and railroad magnate, whom she suspects of being involved in the disappearance of Norah’s brother Aengus. With her Mam’s ancestral skills of knotting magic, Norah creates lacy textiles that can soothe or sicken, reveal secrets, or protect a man’s life.
Meanwhile, in Canton, China, merchant seaman Stephen Rollison rescues a Pinkerton investigator from a Chinese gang with the aid of Zhou Feiming, an agent of the Imperial Court who is pursuing the same criminals. Someone is shipping hopeful Chinese immigrants to America, then selling them as slaves and prostitutes—including Zhou’s own brother and his crippled wife.
Norah’s, and Stephen and Zhou’s, separate searches converge in San Francisco’s bustling, mysterious Chinatown and find their common focus on Hector Gaffney. Opium smuggling, a massive railroad swindle, Gaffney’s unhappy wife and son, kidnapping and white slavery tangle in a terrifying knot that not even Norah’s spells may be able to unravel.
Iron and Lace is a YA novel of history and magic, with glimpses into Victorian household management, life in the Chinese railroad labor camps, and the dangerous secrets of underground San Francisco. My stories have been published in Mindflights, Every Day Fiction, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Esther Friesner’s Witch Way to the Mall?
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