Monday, 11 April 2016

ARC Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Author: Lena Coakley

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Pages: 342 Pages

Format: ARC

Source: Provided in exchange for an honest review by the lovely ladies at HCCFrenzy

Thanks to HCC Frenzy for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Sorry this took so long to get to and review!

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

I got to hear Lena Coakley pitch this book to a room full of bloggers last summer at an event, and I was intrigued. As I am when I hear really cool book premises, I was optimistic because this could be a really cool book, but also a tad hesitant. I really wanted to love this one, which is why I think I put it off for so long. But now that my semester is over, I was able to dive into it on my day off and I was so excited that this book lived up to my wildest expectations.

To be frank, i've never read a book by a Brönte. I know i'm a horrible English major, and you can get in line to shame me. But I was so excited to get into this. 4 Siblings creating fictional worlds together? Sign me up! And since the focalization switches every chapter, I was excited to get to read about each character. Each character -- Anne, Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell -- had their own distinct voice, and the way that their stories were told were different, but they still made a cohesive narrative. Certain characters were more protective than others, some more observant. It was so interesting to read about characters that were so different from each other, yet worked so well together.

Also, hats off to Lena Coakley because this book is an example of suspense done well. Things only mentioned in passing grab you, and then aren't revealed until the end. Or some things are referenced and never mentioned again. It works to build up the family dynamic present -- of course these kids would have things they can reference and not explain. Of course they don't need to always say exactly what they mean. They're siblings, and they know each other quite well. But the main plot, which really starts to build towards the end, left me on the edge of my seat. I had no idea how they were going to end up, or how the story was going to end. And with all of the build up that she had created, when the ending was revealed, it was so great and it fit so well.

Another thing that I think should be mentioned is how well this works in the literary canon. Of course, some of the things Lena wrote about are actually creations of the Bröntes, such as Verdopolis and all of the characters, but Lena was never reckless. Everything that happened to the siblings worked with what historically happened. It's so interesting to read a story about these people, and know that while they are just characters, and these personas are fictionalized, that the story isn't a wild fictionalization. She paid attention to the rules and made them work.

The book was fast paced, the story intriguing, romantic and heartbreaking at the same time, and I flew through it in 24 hours -- a feat since I haven't read a book that wasn't for school in absolutely too long. I loved this, and have already started shoving it into the hands of my friends.  

5/5 Stars. Can't wait to see what Lena Coakley has in store next.

Happy reading!

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