Thanks to NetGalley and HarperVoyager for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Synopsis: Once upon a time Ella for more than her life as a lowly maid.
Now, forced to work hard under the lecherous gaze of the man who 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 decide if it’s one she’s willing to pay…
A smoldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella—perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern. (Goodreads)
The Shadow in the Glass is an extremely dark retelling of Cinderella that bears little resemblance to the Disney version, but is definitely something that the Grimm brothers would have appreciated. It’s very different and unique, with a hint of Goethe’s Faust woven in, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I however, found it utterly delicious and was captivated from the very first page.
Ella is a complicated character whose actions will leave readers emotions in turmoil. Despite her difficult circumstances, she starts out as an innocent naive young girl, but quickly descends into a morally gray area as she makes her wishes. The decisions she makes are somewhat understandable, but they’re truly terrible and lead her farther and farther down the dark path she’s on. The third person narrative brings the reader directly into Ella’s mind and helps bring all her emotional pain to life which is why I remained empathetic toward her for the most part.
The setting and world building are wonderfully written, and I loved the blend of Victorian era fantasy, gothic, and supernatural elements. Skillfully underlying this is the appalling conditions of the poor, particularly women, who had no rights, no protection, and more often than not, nowhere to turn. The ending, has left me conflicted, and a day after I finished, I haven’t decided whether I liked it or not. I don’t want to say anything more, except that it’s definitely NOT a happily-ever-after. There was some repetition and I think the narrative could have been tightened a little, but for the most part this stayed a page-turner for me from beginning to end.
The Shadow in the Glass is a beautifully told and memorable dark fairytale and Ella will stay in your mind for long time after you’ve finished. It includes a few themes that could be triggers for some readers, including: physical abuse, references to past rape and the possibility of future rape, abortion, and miscarriage. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy dark fantasy, flawed characters, and don’t mind the inclusion of difficult themes.