But her successful rise is stalled when the biggest theatre conglomerate puts a ban on her. It seems that another magician has claimed that Thalia has broken a noncompete agreement. It's unheard of for a magician to have a noncompete and the man who is persecuting Thalia stole most of his act from her father in the first place. Thalia and Nutall are determined to find a way to overturn the decision. They attend a performance of the other magician's act only to witness him be killed in a mishap.
Bad luck continues as Nutall is arrested and charged with the murder. Thalia is left on her own but is soon taken in by a rich man and his sister who Thalia is instructing in stage magic. The two are Traders, individuals who trade places with their animal sides and it turns out that Thalia is also a Trader which comes as a shock to her. She has lived her life as a Solitary and never knew that her parents were both Traders. Now she has two missions. She must find out who really killed the magician on stage and she must find a way to fully transition to her new life and abilities. Those who don't make the full transition are prey to being hunted by Manticores who seek to kill them.
Caroline Stevermer has written a fantasy that is also a mystery. She does a good job of portraying life in the early 1900's and Thalia is a fully developed individual. Other characters such as the rich Trader who offers Thalia shelter are not as richly developed and it can be unclear what the differences are between Traders, Solitaries and a third category, the Sylvestri. This book is recommended for fans of the Gilded Age and for fantasy readers.