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Marie is a young woman in love with her oldest friend and neighbour, Henri. But she is also a determined businesswoman, eager to see her family's waxwork museum keep them safe and solvent. Her gift for modelling faces in wax brings her to Versailles, where she must teach the king's sister her skill. But the coming revolution will place Marie, her family and all of Paris in grave danger.
As the monarchy is overthrown and the guillotine becomes a fixture in French life, Marie is expected to show her patriotism by making death masks from the severed heads of every key figure killed as the Reign of Terror begins and France enters its darkest time. How will Marie survive the Revolution? Who will survive it with her? And just how will this girl come to be known as the woman behind one of the most famous museums in the world?