This was every bit as magical as I was hoping for with gothic elements intertwined, which starts as a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of your eye and grows into a suffocating darkness. Yet, the magic still manages to shine through.
We begin the novel when Beatrice is a child and after experiencing the trauma of losing her mother she receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. As much as it hurt to read, I did like the reaction Beatrice had to her dying mother as it felt so believable for a child character which I really appreciated and felt that it set up her character well. We see her as she grows into a young woman struggling to find her space in society because of her sex as well as her stammer. I thought it was great to see how she would try to be strong and have her independence as a woman but Bell shows how it isn’t as easy or simple as travelling alone.
As well as Beatrice we also have a second protagonist in Rosa, her closest friend who moved from America who has very different goals and dreams to Beatrice but they are still very similar in a lot of ways. Although Rosa is introduced as the second protagonist, she didn’t feel like a secondary protagonist in any way. I loved the contrast that she presented to Beatrice. Rosa was so sure of how she wanted to live her life however, it soon becomes apparent that she has prioritised status for happiness when she always thought that the two would be synonymous. It was through our time with Rosa that we got to see how truly dark this world can be, that for Victorian women the danger was not their ambitions or their independence (which we see through Beatrice) but their own husbands and expectations as a wife.
This sudden change in tone when Rosa confronts Eustace for the first time was incredibly jarring and brings the reader back to the stark reality of the Victorian times and out of the magical pursuit of the Winter Garden. I loved how the two were combined and balanced throughout the novel. There was a lot of casual magic and fantasy scattered throughout the novel with Beatrice travelling far and wide to auction houses to get a glimpse of the Winter Garden she visited as a child as well as Rosa’s fantastical clockwork creatures who could take on life of their own. Yet, none of this felt out of place in the dark and oppressive Victorian England setting, especially because some of the magic itself isn’t as harmless as what you first expect. This recurring theme of duality throughout the novel was fascinating to me and handled wonderfully by Bell and I know the phrase “life needs dark leaves in the wreath” will follow me for a long time to come.
Overall, I adored this novel with all it’s magic, mysteries and shocking twists that left me immensely satisfied and in awe by the end (which is also possibly one of my favourite endings I’ve read this year). Although it was the initial fantasy and wonder that drew me into this novel, at its heart it is a story of the struggle faced by Victorian women in society and the complex relationships between mother and daughter which was enchanting to read.… Continue reading →
Although the novel began slightly slower than Rayna’s Sacrifice, this was quickly ramped up and before you know it you barely have time to pause for breath whilst reading. Personally, I loved that and felt that the pacing complemented the action and atmosphere of the novel brilliantly. It also meant that I flew through the book because so much was happening that I couldn’t stop reading!… Continue reading →
I read Hislop’s The Island back in 2012 when I was seventeen and I completely fell in love with the story and the characters (I even reviewed it way back then, too!). When I discovered that Hislop was returning to these characters after all this time I was so excited to jump straight back into the story. Although I was a little worried that it had been so long since I first read The Island, and that I would find it difficult to follow, I quickly realised these fears were unfounded as I was welcomed back to Crete.… Continue reading →
Welcome to my stop on the Lying with Lions blog tour! Huge thanks to Annabel Fielding for giving me the opportunity to take part in this!
Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.… Continue reading →
Staveley is an author who I have heard a lot about since coming back into the world of fantasy, so when the invitation for this blog tour landed in my inbox I knew I had to accept! I was immediately gripped by the first chapter of The Empire’s Ruin and it is easy to see why Staveley is a favourite amongst fans of the genre.… Continue reading →
After finishing the last book, I was very excited to get started on this one as I have been itching to go to the Katori mountains since the first book in the series, The Half-Light and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Although we are introduced to other settings in the previous two books, I loved the fact that from the beginning we are in an entirely new place and beginning to learn more about the mysterious and secretive Katori people. … Continue reading →
Whilst this is not a genre I typically read, I do get hooked by Scandinavian crime dramas and find thrillers around therapists particularly interesting. So, when I was approached with a blog tour invite for Cabin Fever how could I say no? This novel was every bit as gripping as I expected and I devoured the entire thing on one Sunday morning.… Continue reading →
When I saw a book in my inbox marketed as ‘Murakami meets Ready Player One’ I just had to know more! Although Ready Player One disappointed me, I loved the idea of it and those who have been here for a while now know of my love for Murakami. After reading this book that line is probably the most perfect way to describe this rollercoaster of a novel which I was gripped by! … Continue reading →
This was such an interesting concept and take on the dystopian genre, it was so mysterious and gripping as information about this society and this world is slowly fed to you over the course of the novel. You’re not even told who the protagonist is until a couple of chapters in. I really liked this feeling of already being involved in the world, the idea that this is something that has been going on for a while and is no longer out of the norm for the protagonist to feel the need to tell us about it explicitly. … Continue reading →
Welcome to my stop on the Glass Coffin blog tour! Huge thanks to Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! … Continue reading →
I really love books that just provide a brief snapshot into the lives of ordinary people, so when I heard about this book of 40 year-old Ida struggling to come to terms that life as a ‘grown up’ isn’t what she imagined it immediately connected with me and I jumped at the chance to be part of this tour. … Continue reading →
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to be on the blog tour for Lombardo’s The Half-Light, which is the first novel in the Katori Chronicles, so when I saw that there were blog tour spots for the rest of the series I jumped onboard immediately. Before we jump into this review, if you are interested in reading Mariana’s Secret please go back and read The Half-Light first as there are major spoilers for the first novel in the opening chapter of this one! … Continue reading →
This book has been taking bookish social media by storm and within the first couple of chapters I could easily see why. From loveable characters to mysterious magic, from dangerous curses to navigating the social pitfalls of senior school, this book has it all and I am very excited to see where the series goes! … Continue reading →
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