The Riddle of Prague
by Laura DeBruce
When 18-year-old Hana Silna travels to Prague to reclaim her family’s home, she discovers a riddle that may lead to a long-lost flask.
The contents of that flask could change the fate of the world. When a ruthless enemy kidnaps her family Hana has to find the flask to rescue them. On her quest she meets a mysterious man with a penchant for poetry, a Gypsy girl with a haunting past, and Alex, an all-American boy who’s trying to save his sister from a crippling disease. It’s hard to trust anyone when the stakes are this high — especially when surrounded by experts in deception.
There’s only one flask, and Hana desperately needs to find it.
JFK Airport, New York, 1991
My mother says when we face our fears, we tap into a reservoir of courage. I’m not so sure. I’m strapped to this seat like a captured beast, and all I feel is panic. The airplane screams down the runway and thrusts its 800,000 pounds of steel into the sky. We’re taking off in the middle of a thunderstorm. My seatmate, immersed in a book, seems oblivious to the danger.
He’s got curly, blond hair that’s a little on the long side and one of those perfectly sculpted noses, and he’s wearing jeans and a batik-patterned shirt. Early twenties, I’m guessing. Not much older than me. The airplane gives a sickening lunge, and I tug the seatbelt tighter. My seatmate glances over, a bit eagerly, with piercing blue eyes.
“You all right there?” he asks with a crisp, European accent of some kind.
“I’m fine.” I’m not fine at all, but I don’t want to tell him that.
“This is the amazing part.” He gestures out the window, twirling his hand as if he’s conducting the storm outside. “Look!”
“I’d rather not.” The plane shakes, and I grab the armrests.
I’m only on this flight because my mother has inherited a house in Prague. Actually she’s reclaiming a house—the one where she grew up. The one the Communists took from her family when they seized all private property. My mom and dad had to escape when the Soviets invaded Prague in 1968. Now the Iron Curtain has lifted, and the people who left can finally return without being thrown into jail. Unfortunately for my mother, now means surgery and doctors. She’s at a hospital and can barely walk down the hallway, much less haul herself onto a plane. This didn’t matter to the bureaucrats in charge of the restitution of property. If the transfer of the house doesn’t happen immediately, they say it might not happen at all. That’s why my mother is sending me, her only child, in her place. That’s why I’m on this airplane instead of at the hospital at her side, where I should be.
The American girl arrives in Prague today. Finally! Finally things will happen. Everything will change.
I possess secrets—old and valuable secrets. Never mind, for now, who I am or what my name is. Those things have never mattered much. I am history’s silent witness and its victim. And I confess, here in the dark, that I am also a perpetrator of crimes. Ruthless, bloody crimes.
Straw into gold, water into wine, blood into life! I have long witnessed Prague’s obsession with alchemy. Now it is my turn! I shall become like quicksilver. I shall transform secrets into power and power into money.
The American girl arrives today, and soon terrible things will happen. At the end of it all, I will be free.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Laura DeBruce, author of The Riddle of Prague and I am sharing her answers to several questions with you, Ms. DeBruce’s loyal readers.
Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?
I don’t usually wish I were anyone else because I love the people in my life, and I wouldn’t want to be without them. In The Riddle of Prague there are characters that live for hundreds of years, and they have to continuously reinvent themselves. They have the joy, and burden, of living many different lives. There are moments in our lives when we choose one path over another. With the chance to live for hundreds of years with sound mind and body we could pursue those lost opportunities. But there are drawbacks to outliving everyone around you and having to say goodbye to the people you love. You could try to live without love but as The Nomad says, life without love is lonely and bitter and very, very long.
What did you do on your last birthday?
I celebrated my last birthday in a grand fashion. A few years ago, my husband and son and our old dog, Charlie, spent a very happy year in the south of France in a villa on a hillside overlooking the village of Mouans Sartoux. You could see the Mediterranean Sea from the house balconies and olive and fig trees grew in the back yard. For my birthday we went back to the house for a week with a group of friends and family. I love the south of France: the sea, the sky, the light, the art, the food and wine. In The Temple of Paris, the second book in The Quicksilver Legacy Series, the story begins in Paris but then moves to the south of France so I also had to research while I was there.
Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
No. I’ve thought about tattoos but don’t have any.
Which Star Trek or Star Wars character are you most like?
On Star Trek, I related to Nurse Christine Chapel because we both had a crush on Spock. I would like to say I’m more like Spock than Kirk except that I can be very emotional and passionate about things. I have a very logical side that helped me graduate from law school, but my emotions can overrule my logic in a way that Spock wouldn’t quite appreciate. I admire much about Captain Kirk, but I’m not as brave as he is. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of strong female characters In the TV series.
In Star Wars I see myself more as Princess Leia than Princess Amidala. Chewbaca is one of my favorite characters but I don’t know that I’m like him except that I value loyalty as much as he does. There should be more female characters in those films, too. Maybe in the 7th…
Thank you, Ms. DeBruce, for spending time with us here on Room With Books.
Laura DeBruce is a documentary filmmaker and writer. She grew up traveling all over the world thanks to her father’s work with the U.S. Embassy. She and her husband spent twelve years living in Europe including Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and London where she found inspiration to write The Quicksilver Legacy Series. In Prague she worked as a lawyer for the first private nationwide television station in the former Communist bloc. It was there that she fell in love with the ancient city of Prague and its legends.
She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and son and an unruly Golden Retriever.
Website with blog and trailer: http://theriddleofprague.com/
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