Read The First Chapter Of Katharine Duckett’s Shakespeare-Inspired Fantasy Miranda In Milan

Read The First Chapter Of Katharine Duckett’s Shakespeare-Inspired Fantasy Miranda In Milan

Ever wonder what happened to Miranda after the events of Shakespeare’s The Tempest? As author Katharine Duckett imagines in Miranda in Milan, it’s hardly the standard “happily ever after” — but her further adventures do include royal intrigue, magic, and a chance to find out who she really is. Get an exclusive peek at chapter one below!

First, here’s a brief summary of Miranda in Milan—the debut for former book publicist Duckett, who was also an io9 intern for site co-founder and acclaimed author Charlie Jane Anders many years ago.

After the tempest, after the reunion, after her father drowned his books, Miranda was meant to enter a brave new world. Naples awaited her, and Ferdinand, and a throne. Instead she finds herself in Milan, in her father’s castle, surrounded by hostile servants who treat her like a ghost. Whispers cling to her like spiderwebs, whispers that carry her dead mother’s name. And though he promised to give away his power, Milan is once again contorting around Prospero’s dark arts.

With only Dorothea, her sole companion and confidant to aid her, Miranda must cut through the mystery and find the truth about her father, her mother, and herself.

And here’s the full cover by artist David Wardle, followed by the excerpt.

Chapter 1

When Miranda came to Milan, she found she was a monster.

She’d been given a queen’s welcome in Naples, that lovely city on the sea, but as they’d moved inland, the warm breeze had left them, and she found herself among stony-eyed strangers who refused her gaze, who seemed loath to touch her flesh. They treated her like Caliban, her ladies-in-waiting and royal relatives.

They arrived in Milan on a cold, grey day, and as they approached, the castle of her ancestors looked more like a prison than her rightful home. Its high ramparts stretched into the mist, leached of colour by the pendulous clouds, and its black mouth gaped wide, swallowing them as their carriage passed through the gates. Miranda trembled, for she could no longer see the sky.

Her whole life through, sea and sky had surrounded her: With neither in sight to give her bearings, she hardly knew where she was.

Her father had vanished into the labyrinth of the castle as soon as they arrived, seizing back the rooms his usurping brother, Antonio, had taken over while Prospero was in exile, gathering his left-behind books, and sequestering himself in his libraries to pore over the new tomes that he demanded his servants bring him right away, the advances in alchemy that he had missed while on the island.

He left her with barely a word after ordering the servants to settle Miranda into her rooms, though he had insisted that she accompany him here, to see her home once more before she married Ferdinand and settled in Naples.

“I thought we were married?” she’d said, in the carriage. He had turned to her, eyes still on the countryside out the window, and replied, “Hm? Oh, yes — but marriages of princes are contentious things, and the island where you were wed exists on no map. We’ll let the Neapolitans take care of the formalities, the law. There’s no hurry, now that we’ve returned.”

She did not understand what this meant: she knew nothing of law, or of marriage, or of the nuances of love, though she did her best to grasp their meanings. Her father had never spoken to her of these matters in any depth, and now, in her rightful homeland, she began to realise how much she did not know, how much she could not ask.

The island they had left behind held fathomless mysteries, but it also moved to natural rhythms Miranda could observe and decipher: the animal cries that rose and fell with dawn and dusk, the changing patterns of certain leaves that signified shifts in the seasons. But she could not work out the chaotic patterns of the men and women of the mainland, and she especially could not fathom why they recoiled from her, why the ladies at her elbows hurried her so from place to place, why they made her wear a full black veil, its lacy darkness obscuring her vision like storm clouds moving over sun.

Only a few weeks before, she had felt jubilant on the shores of her island. For a dozen years she and Prospero had lived in isolation on their lonely stretch of sand, cast out from their homeland after her uncle Antonio usurped her father and claimed the dukedom of Milan for his own, and for Naples.

Prospero told her the sad tale of how Antonio had worked with the king of Naples to bring about Prospero’s downfall, using scurrilous claims about his magic to unseat Prospero from the throne and turn good men against him. Her father had shipwrecked Antonio and the Neapolitans on their humble isle in order to bring his perfidy to light, revealing her uncle’s evil deeds.

“Now,” her father had proclaimed to the assembled men, his clever plan complete, “we will fly swift to Italy, and my Miranda will claim her birthright as a duke’s daughter and take her place beside noble Ferdinand as princess of Naples.”

She’d watched Ferdinand embrace his father, King Alonso, with tears of joy, for each had thought the other drowned in the storm that brought them to this strange isle, the storm her father had created. Her father had his arms around Gonzalo, the counselor from Naples who had shown them kindness many years before, giving them provisions that had seen them through their terrible journey at sea.

Rightful order was restored, their sorrow was now ended, and all was well in Milan and Naples once more.

Yet her uncle Antonio’s silence disquieted her. He stood outside the circle of warmth, speaking not a word as the air around him rang with laughter and glad cries. His chilly hush, she thought at first, must of course owe its cause to the exposure of his treachery. But no, she saw shock upon his face, as though he had glimpsed some ghast there, on the beach, some vision that chilled him to the bone, even in the island’s gentle heat.

Yet it was not Prospero he looked upon with haunted, salt-burned eyes.

It was her.


The only person in Milan who did not treat Miranda like an abomination was Dorothea.

They sent Dorothea into Miranda’s room on her seventh day in the castle. No one had said a civil word to her in a week: the servants always scurried in, moved around her as though she were a cockroach, and locked the door on their way out, their faces far paler than when they’d entered. They would let her leave her quarters if she asked but insisted on having a girl dress her, to force the hated veil over her face. And so she had chosen confinement. At least here she could remain herself, barefaced, unobserved. The two opulent adjoining rooms with their painted walls and gilded trinkets became her cave, and she had begun to feel like a badger, fierce and frustrated and afraid of the strange two-legged creatures all around her.

She had begun to poke at those who entered her den, asking them, again and again, why she could not roam the castle freely without the cumbersome veil over her face, the veil that felt as though she had run face-first into a clump of spiderwebs. She demanded to see her father but was told that he was cloistered in his quarters, or in important meetings with emissaries from far-flung locales that he could not possibly interrupt, or simply unavailable every time she asked. Beyond their curt responses to her queries, none of the servants spoke more than a dozen words to her: that is, until Dorothea.

Miranda had sulked at the girl at first, unhappy at the presence of yet another individual who would try to bind her into a corset or tame her curly hair, all the while managing to gape, recoil, and block her exit in concert. She’d never asked for servants: she’d never wanted them. She could manage perfectly well on her own.

(Well, that wasn’t entirely true: she had wished for an Ariel of her own, once. An ethereal slave to do her bidding, like those under her father’s command. But when Prospero found her cultivating one of the small island spirits, he beat her black and blue. Since that day, Miranda had learned to handle her own affairs.)

“So they sent you to gawk at me, did they?” She sat cross-legged on the bed, in the pose that had infuriated the maids who’d unpacked her things. “The savage? The feral girl? What tales do they tell of me in this dank, dirty castle?”

The girl continued to dust and tidy, never slacking. “It’s a beautiful castle, my lady. If you ever left your room, you’d know.”

Miranda leapt from the bed, snarling. “You had better not take that tone with me. I’ll—I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” The girl was only inches from her now, amusement plain beneath her placid expression. Miranda racked her brain. None of her usual threats to Caliban applied, or vice versa. She couldn’t shove the girl into the sea, or drop her from a cliff onto the eastern rocks, or command Ariel to scrape out her innards and feed them to the gulls.

She folded her arms. “I’ll tell my father.”

“Your father,” said the girl, turning back to her cleaning, “does not hold as much sway here as you think he does.”

“Why are you talking to me this way?”

“Because I’m a witch. I have nothing to fear from you or your father.”

“A witch?” Miranda examined the girl, whose black hair and hazel eyes looked plain enough. “Like Sycorax.” She stepped back, dark memories flooding into her mind. “Then your magic is no match for my father’s.”

“Your father’s magic relies on books.” The girl knelt to attend to the floorboards. “And everyone says he threw his books into the sea.”

For this Miranda had no retort. This girl, she saw, did not flinch beneath her gaze or avoid her eyes. “Do the others know you’re a witch? All the others living in this castle?”

“They know.” Dorothea rose, setting her hands on her hips. “It’s why they sent me to deal with you. They’re as afraid of me as they are of you, but they think perhaps I can tame the monster.”

Miranda grimaced, baring her teeth: an old habit, one learned from Caliban, who used it to intimidate her. She corrected herself, pursing her lips, waiting for the girl’s mockery; but Dorothea didn’t laugh. “I don’t think you’re a monster, though. I hope you know that. I think you’re alone, and scared, and that you come from very far away. You don’t know the customs here, and that isn’t your fault. My family didn’t either, when we first came to these shores. But we learned. You can learn, if you want to, in time.”

“I do not wish to acquire the customs of people who behave so barbarically,” Miranda retorted. That was her father’s language: the only language, other than Caliban’s, that she had ever known. But her voice lacked conviction. She had wondered, these past days, what she did want from her homeland. What she wanted from the people who treated her like an unsightly specter, and what she desired to hear when she asked, over and over, if there had been any word from Naples. As badly as she wished to leave Milan, Miranda hardly knew anymore if she wanted to be with Ferdinand. He had not turned out to be the man she imagined when she encountered him in that golden grove on the island. No sooner had they returned to Italy’s shores than she saw him begin to cast his gaze about, admiring every beautiful woman they passed. Miranda knew those mooning looks; they were selfsame as those she had treasured when first they met.

Thinking of it now, watching Dorothea dance her way around her room as she attended to the chores, she could hardly blame him, for these creatures, these women of Italy, moved like sea waves and laughed like the chimes of her isle’s evenings. She yearned for their kind glances, though they never had any to spare her. They shouted and scintillated, and oh, she thought she had discovered marvels when first she looked upon the faces of new men. But women: women were another wonder entirely.

“I’ve found that barbarism varies from land to land.” Dorothea began to shake out the curtains, and Miranda came out of her reverie, realising she’d been watching the other girl’s every movement the way she once watched swallows flitting through the trees back in her island home. “I’ve lived in cities all over, from sunny Marrakech, where I was born, to Córdoba to Cologne to Constantinople. Neighbours often called neighbours barbaric, even though they looked and acted and ate almost exactly the same way.”

Her words gave Miranda pause. Civilisation, her father had always stressed, was what separated Miranda and himself from savages like Caliban. Civilisation guided them in their decisions, while Caliban behaved like an animal, with no moral compass or history to draw upon. Prospero and Miranda sprang from a mighty and cultured civilisation, and though no hint of that civilisation lay around them, he’d explained, they were still elevated by it, still responsible for creating it wherever they travelled. Miranda, who had never witnessed more than three mortal people gathered together until King Alonso’s ships came to her island’s shores, didn’t firmly grasp the concept. Long ago she had thought of civilisation as a thin, shimmering cloak, something like the aura she could see around Ariel. She saw no glow on her own skin, though, and felt no noble lineage leading her through life, no matter how often her father promised her that birthright.

“Constantinople.” Miranda sat down on the edge of the bed, considering the word. It sounded funny and not at all like the names of other places she knew. “These other cities you lived in—are they in Italy too?”

Dorothea turned her way, her tan skin perspiring lightly from her labors. “They’re not. They’re far away. Maybe farther than your island. I only came to Italy four years ago, when my mother died, and Milan two years after that. Picked out a new name, learned the language, and that was that. My sister and brother came here with me, but they’re gone now.”

“They’re dead too?”

To her astonishment, Dorothea laughed. “They really didn’t teach you any manners on that island, did they?” Miranda flinched, and Dorothea waved a hand. “No, no, I’m not laughing at you. Really. I’m laughing because if you’d said that to anyone else, they would have turned red as a beetroot, and now I wish you had.” She came closer to where Miranda sat. “It’s not considered polite to go around asking people if their loved ones are dead, you know. At least not without knowing them a little better.”

“I . . . You’re right. It’s just that I’ve never known anyone whose brother and sister died before. I’ve never known anyone with a brother and sister before.”

Dorothea perched on the edge of the bed, crossing her ankles. She raised an eyebrow at Miranda, as though daring her to say something, but Miranda held her tongue. Why shouldn’t Dorothea sit on her bed? It was too big for Miranda anyway. She missed her cosy nest of blankets and pillows in their little house on the island, where she would snuggle up by the fire when the wind blew cold and sleep without coverings in the summer. “They didn’t die. My sister met a man, and my brother did, too. She followed her husband to the New World, and he’s in Orléans with his French soldier.”

It hadn’t occurred to Miranda that men could wind up with men, but she supposed it made as much sense as a man ending up with a woman. Her knowledge of these affairs, as her courtship with Ferdinand had shown, was woefully scant. “What’s in the New World? What’s so new about it?”

Dorothea grinned. “It’s new because we just started sending ships there, I suppose. And it’s different and wild. Mariam couldn’t wait to go. The man she married is an explorer.” She got up from the bed, gathering up the rags and dusters she’d used on the room. “Speaking of exploring, I should tell you before I go that there’s more than one way out of these rooms.”

“If you mean the window, I don’t know how I’m supposed to climb in these dresses.”

“Not the windows—the tunnels. If the common people rise up against you and your cruel and excessive reign, you have to get out one way or another, don’t you? So the old dukes built escape tunnels that lead from the royal rooms into the passages beneath the city, or so the other servants say. I’d bet you all the gold in this castle that there’s an entrance to one here.”


Dorothea shrugged. “How would I know? I’m a common person.” She started for the door. “And I have to be getting back. Those noble closestools don’t empty themselves, you know.” She paused, her hand on the doorknob. “Unless there’s something else you need?”

Miranda cleared her throat. “I—” Want you to stay. The girl was nothing like Caliban, but something about the way she spoke reminded Miranda of the only friend she had ever known, though they were friends no longer. “I . . . could use an attendant. One assigned to my care. There’s lots—there are many things that are new to me, here. I’d . . . I’d like your help.”

Dorothea arched an eyebrow, a smile playing on her lips. “To learn our barbaric customs, you mean?”

Miranda smiled back, surprised at the relief she felt. “Yes. As I suppose I have to learn them . . .” She cleared her throat, suddenly shy. “I’d like it to be from you.”

Dorothea gave an exaggerated bow, a clear mockery of servitude. She moved with big, expansive gestures, and there was something about her face Miranda liked to watch, the way her eyes crinkled up at their edges; the way her lips pursed as she prepared to smile. “As you wish, my lady. I’ll see if they’ll allow the witch and the monster to fraternize on a more permanent basis.” She turned to leave, then turned back, stepping forward to take one of Miranda’s hands. Miranda froze as Dorothea raised Miranda’s hand to her own lips, pressing a small kiss into the skin. “And in the meantime—don’t despair. I’ll come back soon, one way or another.”

She stepped through the doorway, leaving Miranda once again alone. A chill passed through the room, and Miranda shivered, feeling that there was someone standing behind her: but when she turned to see, there was no one there.


She waited a long while after Dorothea left to begin searching the rooms, afraid that the girl would return with a guard to catch her in the act. That was the kind of thing Ariel would do: goad her into action with a few well-placed words and then arrange for Prospero to discover her in some minor transgression. She’d learned his tricks long ago, but she didn’t know if mortals played different games. So far in this life she had encountered not a single soul who proved to be what they seemed upon first meeting.

A different girl, not Dorothea, brought in Miranda’s supper without speaking and then whisked it away again, returning briefly to light a fire and prepare Miranda for bed with as much haste and as little contact as she could manage. Miranda waited until she heard the girl’s footsteps recede far down the stone hall and then threw off her covers, rolling off the bed to look beneath. No trapdoor lay in wait.

She stood, casting her gaze about the room. Heavy tapestries hung from every illustrated wall; jutting stones, from floor to ceiling, looked as though any one might be a secret lever.

Miranda reached out and ran her hands along the perimeter of the room, feeling for cracks and catches as she moved from the first room of her chambers to the second. It was difficult to make out any anomalies by the light of the fire, and her fingers scrabbled fruitlessly over the stone, finding no purchase.

Frustrated, she turned her eyes upward, examining the high vaulted ceilings. They were decorated on every side with scenes of golden-haired beings, winged creatures that reminded her of Ariel. Her gaze wandered from their skies and fell upon the far wall, which was covered all over in paradisal scenes of animals and trees. Upon it hung a weaving that depicted a serpent and an eagle, facing off.

The room had grown drafty, and the tapestry fluttered slightly, though the others around it hung straight and still. Just above her head, in the center of the serpent’s green belly, Miranda thought she could make out a bulge. Or was it only a shadow?

She took a chair from the table by the window where she ate her meals—until her manners improved, she had been told, she would not be permitted to dine in public—manoeuvring it as well and quietly as she could to line it up with the bottom of the tapestry. Then she climbed, pulling the edge of the hanging back from the wall.

There, underneath the basilisk, was a painted pond of rippling cerulean, with a silver fish in its center. The fish was raised a few inches from the wall, and from a distance of even a few feet away it would seem to be part of it, but Miranda could see now that it was a handle. She grasped its scales and pulled, and the pond peeled away from the wall, revealing a round portal into darkness.

She glanced behind her, though she knew she was alone. Her nightgown was hardly made for climbing, but Prospero hadn’t allowed her to keep any of her clothes from the island better suited to this purpose. “You’re a child no longer, Miranda,” he had told her. “You’re a lady of Milan, and you will present yourself to your people as such.”

“And yet they hide me under a veil,” she grumbled, running her hands along the opening’s edge. “So what does it matter?”

She could not see how long the tunnel was or what lay within. Spiders, toads, and rats and mice didn’t scare her: she’d explored the island’s caves many times and grown used to the feel of small legs skittering over her skin. Her true fear was of the space itself, of being trapped in this passage, which wasn’t much bigger than her body. Anyone could come into her room, at any time. This place was not her own. And if she was discovered, what then?

She thought how Caliban would mock her as she wavered. “Coward!” he’d say, as he did when they were young. “But then all the members of your sex are fearful little lambs compared to a man like me. I’m not afraid.”

“You’re not a man,” she’d retort, and then she’d give in, jump from the cliff or tumble down the hill or swing from the hanging rope across the ravine. And Caliban would follow close behind, chagrined, but never truly angry, never far from Miranda’s side: at least not until that day Prospero found them sleeping together, as they sometimes did after a long day at play, and began to rave, beating Caliban so badly he had refused to so much as look at Miranda for a year.

Her father had cowed Caliban, but her father was not here. Her father could not see into Miranda’s rooms. And so she hoisted herself up, slipping into the narrow entrance. She moved forward on her hands and knees, into the blackness, the firelight fading behind her.

The tunnel sloped, gently giving way to a larger, lower passage. Now she could stand, and she saw that the tunnel branched, and that someone had lit torches farther down the way. She crept along the wall, careful of her steps, quiet as she could be in her slippered feet.

She followed a curving offshoot of the main passage and found it led to another portal, this one on a low, angled wall just above her head. She prodded, and it gave way. She pushed again, an inch at a time, until she could peep through the gap, to see where in the castle the tiny door let out.

She was looking up at a man’s ankles and feet. Huge, heavy feet beneath long robes. She recognised those stone legs, and the back of the head, crested with laurels, that she could see rising above them. She was in the long hall on the level below her own rooms that led to the ducal courtyard, at the base of the statue of the ancient man who towered there, whose name she did not know.

Suddenly she heard voices coming down the passage and ducked back into the tunnels, breathing hard.

If she were caught, perhaps her father would beat her, but she had been beaten before. He always spared her the worst of his fury, and in the end he would be happy to see her, she was certain. He had told her once that her face was proof of miracles untold, that her very name reflected its wonder. She had been proud of that, before coming to Milan, where it seemed every citizen shunned her countenance.

Miranda walked on, choosing her path by the light, never taking the brightest route, but always keeping some illumination in her sights. Her sense of direction was sharp from years on an island where rocks sometimes got up and moved, where trees occasionally began to complain and shift themselves from place to place. She’d had to make a map in her head to navigate the isle freely.

Here the tunnel was nearly as wide as a road, arched and set with smooth bricks on all sides. She walked along it for a time, until a movement within one of the dark apertures caught her eye. She thought, for a moment, that she saw a spark of aurulent light dance across its shadows, the kind of magic spark she had seen fly from her father’s fingertips, and again her heart began to pound. But peering into the cramped passage, she could see it was unlit and seemed utterly deserted.

She glanced about and took up a torch from the wall of the covered road, making her way down the dark shaft.

The passage curved, and Miranda followed it, losing the light behind her. She could only see a few feet in front of her until the tunnel debouched into a larger passage, this one with small, high windows on one side that let in a little moonlight, bathing the stones below in a bluish glow. On the side opposite, she could see a large iron door. It was open.

She passed through, casting her torchlight ahead of her, and found three smaller rooms encircling the entrance, each with its door hanging open, almost as if someone had just departed. They fanned out from the spot where she stood, and she saw the rooms were part of a half circle, a self-contained space whose purpose she could not immediately divine.

She could make out low long tables in the room to her right, and here and there the floor glittered with what looked like the dusty remnants of crushed glass. It reminded her of her father’s laboratorium back on the island, which he rarely let her enter. Once he’d brought her in to show her a new toy he’d made her, a little frog that hopped when he brought a finger to its back. It croaked, too, but not the croak she had heard from real frogs on the island: more of a creak, like it hurt its mouth to move it. “Alchemy,” her father proclaimed, “is a divine art, with aims that reach far beyond the mortal realm. We seek to deliver the gifts of the gods into the hands of man, to bring gold down from the heavens, to grant life unending. Why should our stay upon this earth be so precious, so brief? The spark of life, Miranda, can be summoned where no life lay before. The spark of life is ours to create.”

She hadn’t understood his words, but she had taken the small creature in her hands, where it sat trembling. When she examined it later, alone, she saw the stitches in its side, in the skin that felt almost like a real frog’s, though harder and colder. She saw that its eyes were made from black pebbles, pushed into its face. She released it outside, and when it would not jump without her prodding, she took it to a far pond and sat it on the muddy bank. She hoped it might find a home there, but the other frogs leapt away from the creature as soon as she set it down. For many months, she did not return to the pond, but when she finally did, the little toy frog was gone.

She began to step farther into the warren but stopped when she heard a sound. Close. Far too close. The sound of breathing, heavy and low.

Her legs tensed. The sound seemed to come from one of the unexplored rooms to her left.

She stayed still, listening, but the sound did not move closer. She should turn back. She should flee at once, as fast as her feet could take her. But curiosity pulled her forward, as it had propelled her so many times as she travelled along her island’s shores. Never, despite her father’s warnings, despite the insect bites and the scratches and the gashes, had Miranda ever been able to resist an adventure.

The room was empty. A wooden table stood against one wall: otherwise the space bore no trace of human presence. Yet she could hear the breathing still, sounding now as though it came from the walls themselves. She had the dizzying sensation of standing within a living lung, feeling the blast and crush of breath all around her.

She spun slowly, throwing light onto each wall by turn. As it passed over the curve of the wall opposite the door, she saw a slender rectangular crevice set into the stone. She approached, as silently as she was able, and pressed her face against the gap.

She looked into a cell hidden behind the wall of rooms. There, crumpled in a corner, was a man. A man she knew, a man whose face mirrored her father’s. Her uncle Antonio.

He was asleep, his black hair splayed out on the stone floor, his gaunt torso twisted, for his hands were cuffed by long chains to the wall. She had missed what had become of him in the excitement of their arrival in Milan: nor, she reflected, had she seen much of him during their few days in Naples. He had worn the same dazed expression every time she’d glimpsed him since that day on the island, but he had walked free during their travels across Italy. Her father claimed to have forgiven him. Why, then, was he shackled in this secret enclosure?

Within the cell a chain rattled, and Antonio lifted his head. She could not see whether he had opened his eyes, even as he began to speak.

“And so the storm comes to our shores.” His voice seemed crusted with rust, as though he had not spoken for days. “And so Milan is lost, even though I had sworn to save it, even as I thought I had secured its reaches for all the generations yet to come.” A glint, in the darkness: yes, her uncle’s eyes were open, and his gaze had fallen upon her face. “What must you never do, when dealing with the Devil, girl? Turn your back to him, and give him time. Time, and books, and the sanguineous sea.”

Miranda turned on her heel and fled, speeding back the way she had come, the web of tunnels passing in a blur. She barely breathed until she scrambled back through the portal in her wall, nearly toppling over the chair, and dove for the cover of her bed, her breath coming at last in dry, heaving gasps. What was the meaning of his strange speech, his muttered nonsense? Would he tell her father that he had seen her? She knew Prospero’s anger would be terrible if he found she’d had any contact with the traitor, even if she told him she hadn’t meant to.

Her breathing calmed as she lay in bed. No one came to her door. She closed her eyes and tried to understand what she had seen. She resolved not to tell Dorothea about any of it yet, about the tunnels, about Antonio, even though she yearned to share what she had discovered, to ask Dorothea what she knew. She knew from experience how adept her father was at drawing out information, how he extracted it from Caliban with whips and lashes, and from Miranda’s own lips with tools more subtle. If Dorothea had been sent to spy on her, maybe her father wanted her to find Antonio. Maybe this was some kind of test. Dorothea seemed anything but duplicitous, but Miranda couldn’t risk a secret like this.

They could speak of other things. They could spend time together, here in her room, as long as she held her tongue, as long as she told Dorothea nothing that might provoke her father’s wrath. As long as Miranda was careful, perhaps they could be friends.

Excerpt from Katharine Duckett’s Miranda in Milan reprinted by permission. Copyright

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