ARC Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow-Lena Coakley


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synCharlotte, 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.

review3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Abbrams/Amulet Books

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an absurd, almost neurotic obsession with the Brontës, more specifically, Anne. When I saw the Brontë tagline, I had to have it. I nearly convulsed with excitement. Who am I kidding? I was positively giddy. Immediately, from the very first sentence, I was held captive by this stunning glimpse into the Brontë childhood and their marvelous, fanciful stories. Imaginary worlds, magic, folklore, and history all combine for a lovely re-imagining of the famous Brontë siblings. 

PROS:

  • That dark, almost Gothic Victorian feeling is in abundance. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a Brontë or Austen novel. The rich, dreary scenery and melancholy is quite a diversion. 
  • Verdopolis and Gondal are mesmerizing, exhilarating worlds full of intrigue, scandal, and villains. Just the sort of seedy, criminal underworlds and upper-class mischief that sweeps you up into the story. Rogue is a suave rascal, full of gruff comments and spur of the moment adventures. Think Captain Hook. 
  • The underlying folklore aspect and magic is a compelling twist that will keep you guessing. 
  • Each POV is unique. You see the Wuthering Heights in Emily’s devilish attraction to danger and the rush she gets at the corruption. Matters of the heart and soul are her forte. She’s a vivacious and excitable young girl full of wonder and imagination. Charlotte is a bit stuck up and proud. She knows she has skill and feels jilted that her brother gets all the attention. At the same time, she’s a major control freak. All of these quirks you’ll find parallel the true Charlotte and more. Anne is perceptive, realistic, and reigns in the insanity <3. Branwell was a surprise. Many people dismiss his talents and forget about him. I was rapt at Branwell’s gritty and adventurous storylines. All in all, Lena Coakley did a stellar job channeling all the Brontë spirit and personality. The complex and layer relationships between siblings were full of subtle understanding and love. 

CONS:

  • Because the story is told from four different POVs it moves a little slowly; that, on top of the fact that they live on a moor without much to do besides menial tasks or escaping into their fantasy worlds. 
  • A lot of the story is bickering and jealousy between the siblings (mainly Branwell and Charlotte). Topics that could have been explored, like Branwell’s overwhelming sense of responsibility and pressure or Charlotte’s heartbreak that she’d never be able to succeed in a male profession were brief and quickly jumped over for the next subject. 
  • There’s a big disconnect between the worlds the Brontës create and reality, even through they function within and around one another. Each Brontë has an affinity towards an imaginary character that sort of pops up all of a sudden and becomes important. It was difficult to make a solid emotional connection to most of the Brontës because the story flipped back and forth without delving into their passions beyond the imaginary world and subtle favoritism among siblings. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

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