This book has dogged me in every bookshop I went to until I finally bought a copy and set it aside to read on my holiday. Ironically the book is set for the most part in Lulworth, only a few miles from where I’m staying, so it added an extra layer of interest for me as I explored the coast that the book is set on.
It was a delicious read, allowing itself time to unfurl and creep into every part of your thoughts. I haven’t been able to shake the book, even days after I finished reading it. I want to re-read, to go back and re-immerse myself in the world. Goodwin’s level of research and eye for detail is astounding. It is pitch perfect and rings true as an accurate portrayal of the age. Most books I’ve read set in this period focus on the London season, so it felt like a nosey snoop into the private life of the titled country house life.
I loved the changing viewpoints – it really kept the story fresh and offered a variety of facets to each character and storyline. Whilst most of the story was told with Cora as the central character, the view frequently change to incorporate virtually every other character at one time or another, most frequently Cora’s maid, Bertha. My only complaint was at one or two points I felt like I was being given too much information at once, for example the section from Mrs Wyndham’s pov just felt like it was too much at once when I wanted to get back to the story.
I also loved how deeply into the characters Goodwin delves. There are no bad people and good people, just multiple facets and true representations of the situations and emotions that can shape or change a person. I liked Cora from the outset, and even though she’s effectively a spoilt rich girl she never is unlikeable or inaccessible for me as a reader to get in and empathise with her.
The little titbits of information that are scattered throughout so the reader can piece together a lot of the history makes the read a really intriguing one, and then to be given the final version of the story at the end suddenly all the clues you missed make sense.
However I wasn’t certain how I felt about the end. On the one hand it was a lovely neat tidy end to that thread. On the other I wanted to see the other possibility explored as well. It felt like a neat end to one of the parts of the story, but there was still so much I wanted more of and answers to – I didn’t want the book to end basically. Or possibly give me a sequel?
It was so good to have a period romance that delved so much deeper than a lot of the fluff I like to read. These were people, there were no happy endings, no shocking twists at the end that the hero and heroine overcome. It was just people, in a different time certainly, but dealing with issues we know and can relate to – love, money and power and what that does to people and their relationships.
I loved it, I highly recommend it, and I kind of want to go straight back and re-read it. A period romance with so much more depth to it than you’d expect from the genre – and a beautiful exploration of the period. (less)
This book is like marmite. And insane. But mostly the marmite. Now I love marmite, and I love this book, but I can also see that there is going to be a strong divide between those who love it, and those who don’t. Me personally I think it’s brilliant, it’s a fabulous satire, and tackles virtually every subject of contention and problems for young people. Sexuality? Check. Controlling parents? Check. Sex? Check. Peer pressure? Check. Beauty? Check. I could go on, but you get the idea.
The premise is genius. Having studied Lord of the Flies at school, one of the big talking points was always, how would this situation differ if it were girls stranded instead of boys. You have your answer – they’d sort out a fishing system, an irrigation system, a weapons system and still have time to beautify without cannibalising each other. Genius.
I found the characters easy to identify with and completely realistic – despite the more than ridiculous situations. That in itself is quite impressive given that I’ve never been anything remotely resembling a beauty queen, yet I not only liked the girls, I could relate to them and their perfectly normal (mostly) problems and fears.
There are a broad enough range of characters that there’s someone for everyone to identify with, so even if you’re not fussed on one, the plot skips around and gets to know everyone without settling on one for too long. You get to meet a variety of different characters and watch them mature, and by the end I loved all of them, despite not being so fussed on any of them apart from Adina at the start.
It’s a brilliant commentary on the stereotypes we’re all forced to inhabit in some form or another, and watching how the girls develop, how they survive, and how instead of falling down and dying as is expected of them, they thrive, they expand, and turn feral in their search to survive and to find themselves.
The writing is brilliant, and hysterically funny. A note of caution, if you read this book on public transport people will look at you funny when you start laughing out loud. It’s a step away from Bray’s first trilogy of books, but it’s just as good, just as detailed and just as brilliantly conceived. It reminded me a lot of Jasper Fforde’s books – he likes to use the same level of insane situations, footnotes and general indescribable insanity. So if you love his books read this, and if you loved this book I recommend trying Fforde.
It's not all light and fluffy though, it can get dark and twisted and there are plenty of deaths to go around. In fact, it makes it almost more horrifying when it gets darker - Taylor in particular comes as quite a shock.
However, the stumbling block for me was the abrupt flicks to adverts or forms filled out by the girls, or footnotes to explain all the product placement and people and bands. To start with this idea was genius, and I found the footnotes particularly hilarious. (On a side note, the footnotes are a nightmare to get to on the kindle!) However, the further you get into the story the more I found these jerks away from the plot to irritate me. At the start they were great for setting the scene and offering a satiric commentary on the society the girls are coming from. But as the plot developed I started to resent these jerks away, as I just wanted to carry on reading and find out more.
The biggest marmite element of the book is MoMo B. ChaCha. He’s crazy. The guy impersonates Elvis, has a stuffed animal as an advisor and adores Captains Bodacious (awesomely hot pirates) as his favourite TV show. I think he’s brilliant. He’s the crazy cherry on the top of the insanity cake. However I can see how he might be a step too far for some people.
I was so excited about this book, and it completely fulfilled every expectation and beyond. It’s a brilliant satire, hysterically written and offers an interesting commentary on all the many aspects of growing up that girls (and boys) go through.
It had everything I could possibly want. Sequins, cat fights, hot pirate boys, crazy people, and girls standing up for themselves and growing into the people they were born to be.
I loved the ending. By the time the girls are rescued I almost didn’t want them to be – they’d thrived so well on their own that I didn’t want them to go back to the oppressive society and families they’d come from. It was great to see that they didn’t lose that new found sense of self through the rescue and the faux pageant. And the epilogue made me squee inside. It was perfect, it was cheesy, and it was happy. There aren’t all that many books that come with uncomplicated pure happiness as an ending. And you can call it cheesy and cliché all you like, but personally I loved it, and it was perfectly fitting for the book.(less)
This book was even better than the Gallagher Girls series for me – and I love that series. This book is, quite simply, in a league of its own. The characters are brilliant – there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t gel with – but then again I am a complete sucker for con’s – be it in books, tv or films. There’s something ridiculously thrilling about a team being put together, the plans, the plotting, the highs, the lows, the genius that I can only dream of. And the hot boys – there are always hot boys.
And the sexual tensions is swoon worthy. I mean seriously, so many books these days don’t draw out the S.T for very long – it feels like they’re almost afraid of the reader not being interested unless there is making out right now. And I am totally a fan of making out with swoonworthy boys, but there is something about the subtle looks and touches, the moments where they might and then they don’t – it draws you out like a violin string and makes you shiver, because everything becomes so much more intimate and every movement is filled with that much more meaning than it would if they just made out.
The thing that makes this book so brilliant though, is the thought, time and planning that go into the heist. This isn’t just a bunch of kids getting away with something so far-fetched you can’t believe it. Carter knows her stuff – hell she could be a con woman herself her detailing and plans are that good. It’s part fab young adult fiction and part handbook on how to case a joint. Not that I’m recommending you try that – but if I ever did, I’d want this book to come up with a battle plan. I loved all the names for the different types of cons – particularly the nod to the Princess Bride. “Do you know where we can get a six fingered man at short notice?”
And Kat herself, she’s brilliant. When I grow up I want to be her. She’s a genius, she’s a thief, and she’s one of the sassiest and smartest girls I’ve read in a book in a long time. But she’s not all super brains and perfect – she has her doubts, her worries, her moments of jealousy and insecurity, and most of all she is not super perfect because she does things that show that she’s out of practice, that show she’s not quite on par with how she used to be. And I really want to see her how she used to be…
My only complaint was that in a few places it was all too rushed or there wasn’t enough information given for me to fully know what was happening. This only really bugged me when the characters had an ‘ohhhh’ moment, and didn’t let me in on it. They’d let me in in the next chapter or section, but for those brief moments I’d feel like I’d missed something, and frantically re-read the passage before it to work out if I was just being particularly dense.
On the whole though, I completely loved this book. It was just what I needed, and I’m desperate to get my hands on the sequel which has just come out – ‘Uncommon Criminals’.(less)
This book was a little bit hit and miss for me. Some of the things were personal preferences, and others were just problems in general. However despite that, I really enjoyed bits of the book.
I love the premise – it was a great idea, and the Steampunk aspect was genius. The clothes, the machines, the whole atmosphere was great. There were a few things that felt a bit unrealistic but I will get to those in a bit.
I loved Finley, I could identify with her and I liked her, apart from when she was being really whiny. I liked that she was our way in to this new secret family as it made the explanations a lot easier to take as they were given to her. I also loved the premise of rich teenage duke saving the country. I would have preffered him to be a bit older, because whilst the revenge was a great reason for him to be doing all this stuff, he still just seemed a little young. However over all I loved him and he made me swoon – always a good start with a boy.
Jack, ah Jack. I have a soft spot for bad boys and I have to say I particularly loved this one. He reminded me a lot of Damon from the Vampire Diaries (never a bad thing) but I will admit that I wasn’t fussed on the love triangle aspect – I’ll get to that later on. Emily and Jasper both took me a while to get into. I’m not sure what it was but I just didn’t warm to them straight away, so it was a slow build with them.
There was so much recommending this book to me, but there were some problems that just made it fall a bit short. For example, personal preference, I’m not sure if this is a regular feature in Steampunk books, because I haven’t read loads in this genre, but I really disliked the short ‘knickers’ that Finley seemed to favour. I’m a purist, and I love historical fiction, and whilst I love most of the changes that comes in Steampunk, this one seemed a little too far. It felt too modern and like the whole Victorian era was just a backdrop, not a time period that needed to be considered in clothes or speech.
I really struggled with how modern the dialogue was. Again, I understand this is a different branch of Victorian esq time, but I still feel that some of it should remain untainted – and one of those things for me is the speech. It was too modern, too informal to really ring true. There were just too many inconsistencies - for example Finley races around in short pants, spends time chaperoned with men, and then gets all 'oh it's improper' when Griffin shows her his shoulder. Right then...
I struggled with some aspects of the writing as well. The well worn mantra of ‘show not tell’ seemed to be virtually forgotten at times. I wanted to scream at the number of times Emily’s hair was described as ‘ropey’ literally every time she was on the page, and again at the number of times villain or villainous was used. They were little things that should have been picked up on in editing and hadn’t been – and there is nothing worse for me than things that should have been caught in the editing process.
I disliked Sam completely. He was such a toss pot that even when he’d apologised to everyone I still didn’t like him. Because we hadn’t seen the past friendship between him, Emily and Griffin there was no comparison, he was just a jerk, and I couldn’t understand why they were just putting up with it.
I also disliked the love triangle. I love Jack, in fact he was one of my favourite characters in the whole book – something about a weakness for bad boys – but whilst his attraction to Finley was fine, her constant ‘oh but he’s a bad boy and I shouldn’t like him, and I will only like him if it turns out he didn’t do all those naughty things’ really peeved me. Don’t try to change the bad boy! It’s part of his charm, and just wanting to change him indicated it was infatuation and nothing more with him. I think it just felt like the love triangle was thrown in there because there has to be a love triangle in everything now. And it’s really not necessary!
However Finely and Griffin should be getting it on – all the time. I love that romance and spark. It seemed genuine, it was really well written, and I loved the two of them together. Yes sure, we need Griffin to realize that he liked her and the jealousy was a good vehicle for that, but I really just wanted the two of them to get more time together without all of that with Jack.
One of the biggest let downs however, was that I could see the plot twist coming pretty much from the start of the book. Considering they’re all supposed to be geniuses of some description, it took them an awfully long time to work it all out, whereas I had it worked out pretty much from when Sam met Leon. And I don’t like working it out that quickly! I love the intrigue and mystery and being led on and fed clues as the author wants to dish them out. It just made me feel a bit bored because there weren’t any big surprises.
However, please don’t take my whinging as a sign that the book is bad or that I didn’t enjoy it. I loved it, it was simply that I loved it so much that the downsides were that bit more disappointing, because I wanted it to be perfect. I loved the world, I loved the premise, and for the most part the characters. I’m presuming based on that ending that there will be a sequel, and I cannot wait for that either. There was something about this book that just made me squee inside. That made me race to get to lunch at work so I could find out what was going to happen next, and stay up far too late to finish it. I waited for this book for months and it was definitely worth it – I’m sad about those things I’ve pointed out, but otherwise I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and steampunk, or is looking for a good book to get into the genre.(less)
This book had so much potential, and seemed destined to never arrive, so by the time it did I suppose I had built it up into more than it could ever be in my head. The cover is fabulous, the blurb divine, but the book never really lifts itself above the mundane.
My biggest gripe with the book was the lack of research that had gone into simple things about the period. Yes the author had certainly done her research on Napoleon and Egypt etc. but when it came to addressing people at parties? Not a chance. And little things like that should be second nature to someone writing a book set in Regency England. If you don’t do the research the whole thing becomes pointless. So throughout the book people are addressed by their Christian names without formal introduction, social standing of maids seems to be virtually ignored, and no one ever seems capable of calling anyone else by the appropriate title. On several occasions it should be Lord so and so, or sir, rather than ‘Mr’ – and things like that aggravate me.
So that put me in a bad mood from the start. Agnes was likeable, but a bit irritating. I understood why she didn’t tell her father, but it still seemed too ridiculous to bear. She seemed petty and irritating, and her constant translations into other languages more egotistical than a nervous habit.
The plot was again predictable, you could tell who the hero and the villains would be from the first few chapters, and everything in between was just a jumble of historical facts mushed together with some Egyptian myths. I wanted to love it, the blurb had me so excited, but in actuality I was quite bored by some of it. Yes the author may have researched some of these bits, but that doesn’t mean the reader necessarily knows all of it. So some of it felt unnecessary or not sufficiently explained, and as a result I lost interest.
However – and this is a big however, the last forty pages or so really pick up. The otherwise slow pace suddenly sweeps you up and takes you to the (rather inevitable) conclusion. I really loved that last section of book, and it made me want to see a sequel, to find out about the sort of adventures Agnes was going to go off and have. And yet, because of the slightly idiotic and yes very good at translations, but otherwise not particularly brilliant girl that Agnes was portrayed as throughout the rest of the book, the ending seemed particularly ridiculous.
If her character had been shown off in a better light, and if some of the sleuthing had come in the last forty odd pages I would have believed the ending, and would be demanding a sequel, no matter how dissatisfying the rest of the book had been.
As it is I feel let down, and quite irritated. This book was hard to get hold of in the UK, and I almost wish I’d waited instead of trying to get hold of it sooner. It’s alright if you’re not expecting high standards of historical accuracy of the period, or don’t want a ground breaking plot, but if you’re expecting more than light fluff I wouldn’t bother. Which is irritating, because often I love light fluff, and this falls short even of that.(less)
There is going to be an awful lot of me loving everything in this review – because I really did love everything. Which in itself is impressive because I can be incredibly picky about books.
I loved the first two books in this trilogy, I love the dynamics, the characters, the way that Sarah Rees Brennan plays with family and all the different facets of love and relationships. I love that she wasn’t afraid to mix it up and that each book has a different narrator at its core. And I love that with each new narrator you see different sides to the other characters. You notice different things, you realize different things, and it makes everything seem so much more real.
For example book two is narrated by Mae, and I loved Mae, but along comes Sin in book three who likes but also doesn’t like Mae, and I immediately rushed to Sin’s side and disliked Mae. I then got a grip and went back to liking Mae, but it’s impressive that simply with another turn of voice Sarah Rees Brennan can completely change your view of a character.
I’m going to throw out a warning here and now that you are going to need a box of tissues and large quantities of chocolate to get through this in one piece. The first two books had darkness in them, but they were nothing in comparison to the darkest places she takes you in this book. It felt like all the hope was being drained from the world. That everything was a trap set up by someone who had thought ahead three steps more than you could, and there was no way that anyone was going to emerge from this in one piece. I cried like a small child in most of the scenes between Sin and Alan. I wanted to throw things, I wanted to howl, I wanted to devour the rest of the book because even at the darkest most awful moments I tried to cling on to the idea that there had to be some hope somewhere. That not everyone was going to end up dead or miserable for all eternity.
One of the main things I love about Sarah Rees Brennan’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to go there – to do the horribly upsetting things that make us scream and howl and tear our hair out with the stress (in fact I think she thrives on it) – that she can do all these things, but still leave you with a sliver of hope, and still leave you with the idea that even though bad things happen, we might be strong enough to overcome them.
I love her wit – seriously the dialogue goes from heart breaking to hysterical so smoothly it’s incredible. I love watching the characters grow and change, and as I said earlier, I love that each character narration offers us new sides, new ideas about the people we thought we knew and understood, and prods us into realizing we never really understood them at all. People are complex, and not only does she get that, she puts it down on paper so eloquently it makes me want to cry.
I was so excited to see more of Sin – she hasn’t featured too heavily before, so it was great to get to know a new character, to see how she interacts, and how she views the people around her. And again, this is another fabulous thing, that I love each of the narrators despite their flaws, in fact probably because of them, and because of their strengths too, and because of how much each of them grow throughout.
Every character made me gasp at some point or another – because they all did things that were so completely ‘I can’t believe you just did that!’ and it’s even better because you’re with Sin, so you only know about the schemes and plans that she knows about, and everything else you’re finding out about together. And some feel like a betrayal, and some filled me with hope. And some just made me want to cry.
The only thing I wish I could have had more of? More Jamie. I adored him in book two, and I wished there was more of him here. So as well as a Jamie book, I’d also like an Alan book. Even though I know there won’t be, I can still wish…
Because despite the fact that this tale is over, I can well imagine the things they might get up to next, because this is by no means the end for all of them. And that in itself is a great thing – that the characters keep living and breathing beyond the last page when you’ve put the book down. It feels as though they’ve truly existed, and for a little while they let you in to watch their lives. And I feel so privileged that they did and we were allowed to read it.
So thank you Sarah Rees Brennan, for providing one of one my all time favourite series of books. I want to go back again and again and re-read them to see all the things I missed the first time. To see how you’ve woven them together, and how that affects my views the next time round. I want to re-read them just for the pleasure of immersing myself in that world again. And then I’ll try to wait patiently until her new series is released…(less)
Reading a Lady Julia novel feels like coming home; if your home was filled with crazy people, intrigue, murder and the occasional high terror. I adore this series of books and find every opportunity to wax lyrical about them or shove them at unsuspecting friends.
They are all kinds of awesome. The writing is intelligent and beautiful, the characters incredibly drawn and remain three dimensional and multi-faceted no matter how many books are written – in fact I think they become even deeper the further we go. The research is astounding, and it truly feels as though you are a part of Julia’s world from the first page.
And this book was no exception. The cover – oh the cover! The blurb! And from the first page it felt like sinking into a warm bath. Relaxing, welcoming, and as though everything was alright with the world suddenly.
I loved seeing a plethora of old faces – no matter how briefly Daddy March! And was fascinated to see how Portia was taking to motherhood, and Plum to the enquiry business. And Val – I’ve missed him so since the first book, so I was particularly pleased to see him too. And then there were new faces, some I hope to see again, and others I’m fairly sure we won’t, but all of them intriguing.
However, as much as I love the host of characters surrounding them, I was particularly pleased to see Julia and Brisbane again. I loved watching their romance spark in the first three books, and have been fascinated with Raybourn’s skilled portrayal of the couple in their marriage. None of the spark is missing, and it hasn’t diminished the individuals in any way being finally united – in fact it’s raised more questions and issues, and I’ve loved to see how they’ve been tackled and over come. It was so good to finally see Brisbane acknowledging that Julia is just as capable as him of strong emotions and intelligent thought - and whilst he must have realized on some level, to see him truly acknowledge it and bring her further into his work and his life was brilliant after four books of him steadfastly pushing her away.
It was fascinating to see them back in London again – oh London how I’ve missed you too! Whilst I loved the travels and seeing the places the cases took them to, I did love to come back to London, the setting of the first book, and their first meeting. It raised old and new issues and ghosts, and stripped some characters back so that we saw them raw for the first time, and learned a little more about their pasts.
However, they never once lose their individuality, and I love seeing how far Julia has come, how much she has grown as a person, and particularly that she doesn’t lose it all now that she has Brisbane. She continues to grow, to infuriate and intrigue me, and I love watching her journey through each book. She is a fabulous narrator – skilled, witty and intelligent, and it’s a pleasure to be brought back into her life.
They made me laugh with them, and weep when everything seemed at its blackest, and truly lose all composure when all was finally revealed at the end. The book takes you on such a rollercoaster of emotion, and I loved losing myself in it for a few hours.
I cannot really talk further about the book without ruining it – and that would be a cruelty too far. All I can say is that I adore these books. They are my all time favourite series – one I come back to again and again, and this latest instalment is a beautiful continuation of the story – one I hope to continue reading about in Rome…
There are no words, for Deanna Raybourn has used all of them already. All there is left is to say that if you buy one book this month, or even this year, let it be this one – or the first in the series “Silent in the Grave” if you haven’t yet discovered Lady Julia.(less)
The last month has been filled for me with moving house, and that meant unpacking a lot of books I haven’t touched since I was a child. The ‘Drina’ books were a favourite of mine growing up – in fact they were a favourite of my mother as well, as they were first published in 1957.
The series consists of eleven books, detailing the life and adventures of Drina Adams from age ten (roughly) to age eighteen. Drina, brought up by her grandparents – soft and gentle grandfather and strict and over bearing granny – after her parents were killed when she was only 18 months old. Drina is desperate to be a ballet dancer, but her granny is determined that she have nothing to do with the world. However Drina does eventually win, and we learn more about her past, her legacy, her legendary ballet dancer mother, and her travels around the world – as well as her learning to be a ballet dancer – throughout the series.
The series has aged remarkably well – particularly considering I’m reading them over half a century since the first books graced the shelves. Yes there are subtle differences – no mobiles, no computers, there are still corridors and compartments in trains and telegrams. But these are so well blended that it doesn’t seem jarring.
Yes there are turns of phrase that are awkward, and the editing is a bit naff in some of the books, but overall they are a lovely series – one that translates well from child to adult.
Drina is – whilst at times a little too highly strong – a mostly lovely character. I felt for her, and ached for her, and raced through the pages to see what would happen to the charming heroine next.
The secondary characters sometimes fall into stereotypes, but they’re so vividly created and delightful to get to know – apart from the nasty ones which I want to throw things out – that it really didn’t bother me. And Drina seems to have no problem making friends, which lead to a vast cast of well-crafted individuals with compelling backstories – Jenny and her tragic time growing up, the refugee Ilonka, born and bred Londoner Rose. Oh and not forgetting the boys – flamboyant Paris born Igor Dominick the younger, and the fabulously dreamy Grant Rossiter…
After reading them again, I think I’ve discovered where I got my early yearning to travel, because almost every country Drina visits is one on my list of places I’m desperate to visit. Wales, Switzerland, the Chilterns, Italy, Edinburgh, New York, Paris, Madeira… And every single one of them exquisitely and vividly described.
And the romance… It’s subtle, and completely different from anything we experience in modern novels. There is no epic first kiss, and for the most part it is a long distance yearning, but it’s beautiful and it’s painful and it’s exquisite when they’re together.
And whilst Drina’s life seems at times a little charmed, there are hardships in there, it isn’t all beautiful awesome, and her journey is by no means an easy road, and I think that gives the series such a good believable grounding to branch off into fiction from.
The ballet is not all consuming, but plays a very great part, and completely takes over whilst your reading. I always find myself yearning to travel and take up ballet whilst reading the books – which I always take as a good sign if it makes me long to do something I wouldn’t normally do.
My only complaint was how quickly Drina falls in love, and sometimes how harsh and over bearing her Grandmother can be.
Whilst there are always favourite books in a series, overall it creates a very beautiful telling of an extraordinary child’s early life.(less)
Oh my word I love this book so much. Seriously, anyone who hasn’t yet discovered Holly Black’s work is missing out – and the Curse Workers series is, in my opinion, her best writing yet.
There are a few things that make this series so awesome for me. 1) Cassel. I spend most of my time torn between wanting him to pin me against something, and wanting to wrap him up in blankets and feed him soup.
2) The world. We’re in modern day America, and curse workers are terrifying mobsters whose powers are illegal but sought after. Being a curse worker is a blessing and a curse, and it’s fascinating to see how different people respond to their gift – and the range of workers there are.
3) Blowback. It’s so good to see people with these amazing magical gifts who get some sort of blowback for using them. Cassel seems to transform into weird things and blacks out. His brother Barron loses memories of his own – his grandfather loses limbs. With a price to pay on every little curse, it makes the stakes that much higher and more interesting when people are forced to use their powers.
4) The fact that Cassel (and most of his family) are all CON ARTISTS. There are not enough books that have this as a plot line. I love it. Words cannot describe my love. I love the way that Cassel's mind works, the cons and tricks he pulls off, the sheer awesome as you watch all the pieces slot into place. It is magic, plain and simple.
I love Cassel. He is on my list of fictional characters I would love to kidnap. The book is in first person point of view, (and from a female writer, yeah that’s right doubters who think women can’t write male perspective, read this!) So you really get into Cassel’s head. I think this is the only way that the reader would be able to identify with him, as it’s only in his head that he allows himself to show anything other than a cool unruffled front. As it is Black has created a believable bad boy, who the reader can identify with and frequently want to wrap him up in blankets and feed him soup. This guy just doesn’t catch a break!
If it’s not the Feds it’s the crime bosses. And if it’s not them it’s school, or the girl he loves who has been cursed to love him back. And if it’s not all of those combined, it’s his family black mailing him to get what they want. How anyone could survive all that is beyond me, but somehow he does, and usually emerges mostly unscathed. He’s snarky and the banter and wit between him and the other characters had me laughing out loud. But on the inside, whilst the funny is still there, he’s more calculating, and you see a greater depth to him that he doesn’t necessarily let on is there to anyone else.
Luckily the friendships that had begun to sprout during the first book have really taken off, and I loved seeing the dynamic between Sam and Cassel as he learned to trust someone other than himself. And the sheer blind faith that Sam puts in Cassel, even when faced with such lines as “I want to frame someone for my brother’s murder” Sam just asks “Ok,why?” I think I might be a little bit on team Sam as well.
Even Cassel’s family, who are some of the most sneaky people on the planet, somehow are likeable. Some of the time. I’m constantly torn over Cassel’s mother – one minute she’s the most selfish person in the world, and yet Cassel will still do anything to protect her, and the next she’s actually sort of being a mother. The same goes for Barron, I love and hate him in equal parts. The only member of Cassel’s family I genuinely trust is his Grandfather. Which is good, cos the poor guy needs someone he can go to.
Due out in paperback on 16th June 2011 But in some ways the family are one of the most interesting aspects about the series. I love novels that centre around families – particularly weird families. In a few months when Demon’s Surrender comes out, you’ll see me wax lyrical about Sarah Rees Brennan’s take on family. I love seeing the dynamics, the need to protect your flesh and blood even if they’re the ones ultimately hurting you – and then the bigger picture of the mob as a family. And seeing how those relationships can take over your life.
And speaking of relationships, his one with Lila is one of the most messed up things. It's heart breaking to watch. It was so good to see more of her as a (relatively) normal girl than we had in 'White Cat' - even if half the time she was being so weird I didn't trust her. And given the end of 'Red Glove' I'm even more excited to see what happens next in the Cassel/Lila saga of epicly thwarted love.
I cannot wait for the next book. This series is one of my favourites, and is becoming stronger with each instalment. The third book in the series “Black Heart” is due out sometime in 2012, and I’m so excited already, I may just have to go back and re-read the series and try to calm down.(less)