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The Swan Gondola
464 pages; Riverhead Hardcover
Set during the 1898 Omaha World's Fair, this novel recreates the few months that Nebraska served as an international capital, complete with lavish temporary palaces and a cast of cynical hucksters, pickpockets and performers who earn their living on the midway. Though the historical details about the fair's construction delight (imagine: "buildings shaped like foreign shrines," "cupolas with candy-striped shingles" and "a greenhouse full of humming birds that buzzed so close you could almost feel their wings flutter your lashes"), it's the love story of a certain ventriloquist named Ferret Skerritt and an actress named Cecily that captivates, most especially when a wealthy rival to Ferret threatens to separate the two. Be prepared for a romantic finish—and some unexpected twists in the plot that prove magic is possible, even for magicians.
— Leigh Newman