I am fifteen. I am in a white, floor-length beaded dress that corsets at the back. My hair is curled, set with hairspray, with flower-shaped crystal clips set in. For the first time in my life I have fake acrylic nails, squared off at the tip, with a delicate floral pattern painted on the ring finger. My mother has loaned me her jewelry, a delicate diamond necklace that sits just over my collarbone. I am on my way to my first prom.
Lila Bard is nineteen. She is in Calla’s clothing shop in Red London surrounded by finery. She picks up a black half-mask with two horns spiraling up from the temples. Forgoing the available dresses, she wears a black tunic, fitted trousers, and a pair of black boots made of soft, supple leather. She selects a dramatic high-collared black velvet coat with a half-cloak over her shoulders and glassy red clasps. She is on her way to a masquerade at the palace.