So this is a retelling but ore what happens after Wendy leaves Neverland. Really years later when Peter Pan returns for Wendy’s great-granddaughter. Kinda always knew that Peter Pan was a villain.
What if Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother wasn’t a Fairy Godmother? What if she had an even Step-dad instead of an evil Step-mom? What if it’s not a prince at the ball but someone closer to home? What if instead of having a fairy godmother just grant her wish to go to the ball, she makes a deal with a mysterious woman that she can have all she wants with 7 wishes? To put it lightly this is not your typically retelling of Cinderella. At times, It became less a Cinderella story and more of a Faustian retelling. Eleanor or Ella as she is called is forced into service when her Guardian, Mr. Pembroke decides she is not worth spending money. Ella was taken in by his wife when Ella’s mother died and intended to raise her to be a Lady but Mrs. Pembroke died and Mr. Pembroke did not share in his late wife’s wishes for Ella. So she forced to be a servant in her own house. She loves to read and it’s her one comfort to sneak into the library and read about all the places she would have gone to if Mrs. Pembroke had lived. One night, she finds a copy of Faust out and starts to read it. As she is reading it, a mysterious woman appears and offers Ella she can have everything she ever wanted with just 7 wishes. In exchange, she just needs to give up her soul after all the wishes are done. As someone who has read the book before, you would think she would be more careful in making deals but she agrees and as you expect, things do not go as well for Ella as she wished for.
This book became increasing hard to read as it went one. Part of that had to do with the events of the past week and looking at a future where Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned, the situations, Ella and her fellow woman in service face are too close to home. The book begins with Ella’s friend and another maid being dismissed because she is pregnant after being raped by the Mr. Pembroke. Everyone knows the child is his but instead of him taking responsibility for his child, she is the one who is dismissed in disgrace. Another maid, uses her influence over the master of the house to steer him away from her but to her fellow maids to avoid their fates. Throughout the book, Ella has to find ways for her and her friends from being his next victim but with a woman with no status and no money, it’s difficult tightrope to walk. She can’t outright accuse him because it is his word against hers and it would most likely get her fired and out on the streets. So she uses her wishes to try to help her situation but like all things, the wishes don’t go as she plans for them. Someone dies because everything has a price. She tries to find ways to help herself without using the wishes but every time she does, she is blocked. So she makes a wish, thinking this time she has phrased it right that she will get the results she wants. As things spiral more and more out of control, she tries to justify each wish, each decision and how she is not to blame for the outcome. It’s not her fault people died. It’s the mysterious woman who killed them. All she is doing is protecting herself and her friends. She is trying to better her life so she can help others. She can have the love of her life She can have the money that she was to inherited. She is doing nothing wrong. Well, if you are familiar with Faust, then you know how this is going to end and it’s not the fairy tale ending that Cinderella normally receives.
This was a good book. It had a lot of good ideas and liked the Faustian twist on a fairy tale story but maybe I would have liked it better if current events didn’t put into sharp focus that Ella’s Victorian reality is not so far from our own reality.
There is a trend on #booktok right now asking who are the authors you will always buy their books no matter what they are about. Holly Black is one of those Authors for me. She knows how to tell a story. Especially if it includes Fairies. This is her first Adult book and the synopsis reminds me of my favorite series of hers, The Curse Worker Trilogy. So I’m stoked for this one.
This was a delightful little fairy tale if you can call it that. Olivia Prior is an orphan who grew up in a school that does not understand her or tries too. She is not able to speak but she has a lot to say and will not go unheard. Her father died before she was born and only has a diary of her mother that shows her fall more and more into madness. Throughout it tells her Olivia she will be safe as long as she doesn’t go to Gallant. One day, she gets a letter from her uncle telling her that he has been searching for her for years and it’s time to come home to Gallant. She heads to Gallant in hopes of finding a family that she has always wished for but what she discovered a broken down mansion. The Uncle who invited is dead by a year and all who live there now is the housekeeper, the groundskeeper and her grieving Cousin. The family Prior live in Gallant and they can never leave because they guard the wall between the living and the death. Her arrival is not welcomed but Olivia will not be denied a chance of a home or go back to that school so she does what she can to stay. It’s all delightfully gothic in feel and tone. There is such a mystery around all the characters and makes it so rich. Olivia’s cousin, Matthew is so broken by the loss of his family and the history of his family at Gallant. You just wants to give him a hug because he resigned himself to the burden of his families legacy and wanted to protect them as well. He wants Olivia to leave so she doesn’t have to suffer the fate of the family. Olivia is strong and a little stubborn and goes beyond the wall and discovers all the secrets. I won’t say more as not to spoil it but I can’t say enough good things about this book. It was a quick read and heartbreaking. You can’t help but root for Olivia as she tries to find her place in a family she never knew she had but has always wanted. Your heart will break for Matthew who has lost too much and can only lose more. Please go read it.
I found this on BookTok and I’ll admit I was a little nervous when they were comparing it to the The Magicians because I HATED that book. It’s the worst and I have no idea how people were able to get through 3 books of it but I digress. The Atlas Six does have some things in common. It brings together a bunch of young attractive magical people in one place. This time, it it is an opportunity to join a secret society that controls the Alexandra Library. It turns out it didn’t burn down but has been hidden because the knowledge it contains it too powerful for everyone and it is limited to only the few powerful people. Joining the Alexandra Society not only you get access to the library but also riches, influence and power that few can only imagine. Every 10 years, the society invites 6 people to study but only 5 people get initiated. Libby, Tristan, Callum, Reina, Parisa and Nico are all powerful magicians. In fact, probably the most powerful magicians in the whole world. They are all equally unlikable as they are likable. The book switches between each of their POV’s so we get insight into all of their heads. This works great because we never really get the full picture of what’s going on. At any given time we only get the perspective on who’s ever POV we are in and I don’t think any of them are the most reliable of narrators. Some arguably more reliable than others and that is what makes it interesting. At times I was actively rooting against one person only to change my mind later about them and then rooting against someone else. I knew that, like the characters, I didn’t have all information as to what is really going on in the society but I feel like I started to catch on quicker then most of the characters. There are a lot of twists and turns and pretty interesting reveal at the end. I kinda saw it coming but not in the way it played out. I am super pumped for the sequel to come out later this year.
I do love a good fairy tale retelling and then you add it a Faustian twist. Count me in!
This has some real gothic vibes to it and I love it.
I admitted that I picked this book based on the cover. It is so pretty. Thankfully the book was good or I would have been super disappointed. Ning is from a small town but one day gets an invitation from the Palace to compete to be the new shennong-shi, a master of the art of magic and tea. If she wins and becomes the Palace’s shennong-shi it will bring her power she can only dream of but more importantly, it will give her access to cure to save her sister. Ning immediately gets caught up in Palace politics. The Princess is currently ruling as he Emperor is sick. Her cousin, the son of the banished Prince wants something but his motives are allusive. Others in court have their own agenda. Who can Ning trust? It’s a lot of back and forth as I doubted each character’s motives, convinced that they were the bad guys, only to be surprised at the end. Ning is definitely my favorite character. She is super smart but a little naïve. She is a little over her head when it comes to the machinations of court. Despite that, she is very resourceful and talented. She is able to move through the competition by using what she knows and being able to think on her feet. She often knows the smart thing is to walk away but the does the right thing and stay and help. This often gets her in trouble but also helps her find allies. I was really drawn to this book and sad, I have to wait until October for the sequels. I guess I should be grateful, I don’t have wait a year.
Okay #BookTok. Let’s see if you are right about this book.
I think I said this had Gone Girl vibes to it but I wasn’t sure who was the Amy Dunne of the story and honestly, I’m still not sure. Lowen Ashleigh is a broke Author who gets a a big contract to be finish writing a series by the popular Verity Crawford. To plan out the next books in the series, she has go live in Verity’s house to go through all her notes and live with her grieving husband, Jeremy. You see, in the last year, the Crawfords have lost both of their twin daughters and Verity practically comatose from a car accident. While doing her research, Lowen comes across Verity’s Autobiography she had been working on and it’s a doozy. The deaths of her daughters may not have been accidents. What should Lowen do? She could show it to Jeremy but he is already grieving, this would just hurt him more but Lowen is also falling in love with him, so it could be the key to freeing him from her. There is just so much going on her. So many twists and turns, it’s hard to really know what was going on. No one is really a reliable narrator her. The book is from Lowen’s POV and it’s clear from the start that she is not in the best head space at the moment. She just lost her mother, who she didn’t have the best relationship with, she’s broke and about to be evicted. Not to mention, she is falling in love with Jeremy so of course she is going to paint herself in the best life. As for Verity, we only have her writing to base our opinions on but is she telling the truth. I was almost expecting to find out that this was all in Lowen’s head and that she and Verity was the same person but that’s not the twist at the end. All I’m saying, you will finish the book still not sure what is the truth and what isn’t. Trust no one. If this hasn’t been optioned for a movie, it should be because in the right hands, this is the perfect psychological horror movie waiting to be made.