Secrets abound in this gripping tale of a young woman cloistered since birth who discovers that knowledge is no subsitute for experience when she choses to follow her heart over science.

Raised by her father in near isolation in the English countryside, Emilie Selden is trained as a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. In the spring of 1725, during the English Age of Reason, father and daughter embark upon their most daring alchemical experiment to date—attempting to breathe life into dead matter. But when Emilie—against her father’s wishes—experiences the passion of first love, she decides to listen to her heart over her head. Banished to London and plunged headlong into a society that is both glamorous and ruthless, Emilie discovers that for all her extraordinary education she has no insight into the workings of the human heart. When she tries to return to the world of books and study, she instead unravels a shocking secret that sets her on her true journey to enlightenment.
"McMahon packs a lot into this beautifully crafted historical novel: an engaging, accessible plot, lavishly furnished with period details and intriguing characters . . . Emilie may be a classic fairy-tale heroine on the surface, but this Sleeping Beauty has depth and an increasingly self-aware intelligence." —Diana Gabaldon, Washington Post

“Evocative, compelling, and beautifully written...Explosive secrets abound not only in the mysterious alchemy laboratory and in sprawling, seething London during the Age of Reason—but also in the heroine’s heart.” —Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Boleyn

“Impossible to stop thinking about...From the first page, there is a steady building of tension, drawing us deeper and deeper into the layers of secrecy surrounding the reclusive and brilliant Emilie Selden. The reader discovers the truths hidden within the elements of nature and the depth of strength within the soul.” —Linda Holeman, author of The Linnet Bird

“An absolutely wonderful book. A beautifully written story, rich with detail.” —Diane Haeger, author of The Ruby Ring