Set in Renaissance Florence, this fantasy retelling of the life of Catherine de' Medici is as beautiful and as richly magical as the works of the great artists who people its pages. When Catherine was born, she was the sole legitimate heir to a great fortune and great power. But her father had died before she was born, and her mother died only a few weeks afterward, leaving the child to the guardianship of the pope and the fosterage of servants. From this beginning, Roessner tells an intimate story, of the servant families of the Medici who practice the secret magics of the kitchen and hearth. The Befanini family is bound to the Medici by blood and oaths, through children born on the wrong side of the blanket, recognized but not legitimate. Thomas, the son of Catherine's foster mother, is bound particularly to Catherine by magic and love, for he is destined to become Catherine's chef, and to that end he is not only taught the arts of the kitchen but is apprenticed out to a sculptor, and befriended by the great Michelangelo. But war intervenes in the charted courses of these children, and in the struggles between the pope and the German emperor and the city of Florence itself, their futures - and their very lives - are set at risk.