TITLE : The Shadow In The Glass
AUTHOR : J.J.A.Harwood
GENRE : Young Adult, YA Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings, Gothic Fantasy
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : 18 March 2021
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley, Harper Collins UK and Harper Voyager for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Shadow In The Glass is a dark, gothic retelling of Cinderella by J.J.A.Harwood. The story is set in Victorian England and takes us through the truly terrible times women had to face on a daily basis. The story takes place in Grandborough House where Mrs. Pembroke took in the recently orphaned Eleanor known as Ella. She is treated like a daughter and grew up with all the privileges that a child would get. Mrs. Pembroke passes away and Ella is forced to earn her keep by the housekeeper. Mr. Pembroke is an alcoholic and is drinking away the wealth and the riches that Mrs. Pembroke had managed wisely. As Ella grows up in the household doing household work she starts to see the difficult lives the household staff has to endure. Her only escape from her daily chores is when she gets to escape into the library at night and lose herself in the books. When one of the girls who worked at Grandborough house is turned out for getting pregnant by Mr. Pembroke Ella gets angry at the injustice. She ends up in the library and accidentally cuts herself on a book about Faustus and a deal he made with the devil, thereby summoning a woman who gives Ella 7 wishes to transform her life. Things take a turn for the worse when each wish used comes with a heavy price. Can Ella stop the Faustian deal? Will she be able to stop herself from making wishes despite the horrors it could bring about?
This story truly is a Faustian deal with Cinderella and the dark turn it took really surprised me as I wasn’t expecting it. The character of Ella and her story connects with the audience because of the injustices she had to endure in the house that used to be her home. However, the means and ways she goes about transforming her life truly shows us her need to control her destiny and take charge. She relishes the power as she moves forward in the story. She craves success and is not afraid to take the step that could destroy her humanity once and for all. One could also argue that this was not a fantasy story but the imagination of a woman who is unwilling to admit, she did commit horrendous crimes against people who wronged her. She does create an alternate reality that helps her to keep her sanity while at the same time take the law into her own hands. The lines between reality and fantasy is very small and is often blurred in my opinion and this creates an atmosphere of dread and eeriness to the story.
The story is well-crafted and the pacing was good. We get to see inside Ella’s head and understand her thought process. She was a victim of her circumstances until she was not. The descent of Ella as a character from a young, inexperienced, then to a hardened young girl to the morally grey woman was fascinating to see. Ella wanted to help people she cared for and for them to never be abused by powerful people. She was willing to take the extra step in and mete out justice and avenge them. We feel her anger, hatred, and disappointment time and time again. Her need for vengeance outweighs her need to stay away from the wishes.
I loved the dark storyline and it was quite different in the way it was told, always with a foreboding and creeping feeling of horror and terror of something bad happening. Also, I liked how it had the epic ending where things were open to interpretation. I really enjoyed the story and I believe this is a book that can be read during Halloween. It has spooky vibes and a gothic feel to it. The ominous feeling of danger and constant dread follows our main character through the grey, gloomy, drab London.
I wanted to see more of her reading and her with books. This part was told rather than shown in my opinion. Also, we didn’t get a clarification on where Aoife was, and knowing that side of the story and how things panned out there would have helped with better clarity of the situation.
Overall, if you love fantasy historical fiction and fairytale retellings that have a dark theme and gothic vibe, I would recommend checking this one out. This is a quick read and quite an engaging read too. I gave the book 4 stars. I highly recommend checking this out.
Do you like fairytale retellings? What are some of your favorite retellings that you have read so far?
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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.
Source : Goodreads