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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
A dark and gothic tale set during the Victorian times, The Shadow In the Glass is a compelling and engrossing story of a young girl’s struggle to better her life.
J J A Harwood’s debut novel has parallels of Cinderella and YES, it is being publicized as the dark re-telling of the fairy tale but I beg to differ. The author has definitely used the outer crust of the fairy-tale but filled it with such intense emotions and sentiments that by the end of it all, there’s not even a semblance of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”. It takes time to get into the meaty part of the story but once it does, there’s no keeping this book down coz like Ella, we are addicted to the play of light and darkness that revolves around her life.
Ella as a character is not easy to like. The whole story is being narrated in the third person and that could be one of the contributing factors. However, there’s also the fact that she’s a reflection of how we humans behave in a particular situation. She’s kind, loving, and extremely set on improving her life and also saves her loved ones and to that end, she doesn’t hesitate in using whatever means available; and if one is forced to pay an extreme price for the same, then SO BE IT. It is this attitude that confuses the reader, there’s no good or bad there’s only the GREY shade of Ella’s miserable life as a housemaid. To have known the pleasures of a good lady-like life and then have a rotten fate play such a cruel trick, it is easy to understand the desperation that forces Ella’s hand. In fact, whenever the circumstances coerce her to call in for a wish, the reader can’t stop sympathizing with her desperate attempts.
The quintessential question as to if there is any supernatural or fantasy element in the story or if at all just a bag of tricks pulled by the author kept me hooked till the end. I am not a huge fan of open-ended storylines, but for Ella’s story, I couldn’t think of a better ending. Charles’ love for Ella is bright and filled with a pure glow and his efforts to circumvent the state of affairs touching.
There are abundant reasons why this story will appeal to most readers of gothic fiction but the primary reason would be the Victorian London that Harwood has depicted. There are, of course, no rosy hues to the colors of London, it is the London that is viewed thru the eyes of housemaids and laborers and as such is dark like the story.
Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.
Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.
One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it.
A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.
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