Series: Court of Miracles #1
on June 16, 2020
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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A diverse fantasy reimagining of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book.
In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city's criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).
Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.
Today is the release of The Court of Miracles in Australia, and today I share my thoughts on the book! The Court of Miracles is described as a mash up of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book, and if that wasn’t enough to pique my curiousity, the beautiful foiled cover definitely did. I haven’t read the original Les Mis, but I’ve seen the musical enough times to be familiar with the characters, so I was definitely excited to see what this alternate version of the story had to offer. I didn’t really pick up where The Jungle Book came into play though.
An alternate Paris setting
I was immediately intrigued by the setting of 1828 Paris, following a failed French Revolution. The citizens are poverty-stricken, and crime and starvation is rampant throughout the City with talk of a revolution. Nine Guild leaders have taken the reign over the city, and they form The Court of Miracles. Those who have joined a Guild renounce their heritage, with the Guild leaders becoming their new leaders. Seeing such a fascinating concept come to life over the course of the book was one of my favourite parts of the book.
We meet our main character Eponine (Nina) at the start of the book, when she sees her sister sold into slavery by her Father. So sets the course of her life into motion – once of age, she joins the Guild of Thieves to rescue her sister and to protect another – Ettie, who has come to rely on her for her support and protection. As the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild (which she doesn’t hesitate to remind us of at every opportunity), she has made a name for herself for being wiley and intelligent, able to weasel her way into places without people knowing and also being able to outsmart others.
It is an evil time; either we live or we die.
Eponine as a Thief, and a Sister
Is there any price I will not pay to save my sister? No. There is not.
I liked Nina as a character and how she knew how to play her cards right to plot the Guild leaders against one another. She is wily, intelligent and quick on her feet. My favourite part about her is her loyalty towards her sisters, and how her primary focus was on protecting them. Her plight and desperation definitely illustrated just how much influence the Courts had over this world.
There were however, a few things that I found difficult to believe. She’s built up a reputation as a renowned Thief, but I felt like she had too much freedom on her hands. Especially when she started plotting behind the scenes and pitting the Guild Leaders against one another. I found the influence that she had on The Court and its Leaders to be hard to believe, which was kind of important given the amount of political intrigue within the middle part of the book.
With competing Guild leaders at play, a Tiger who trades in slavery, and a brewing revolution in the city, there is A LOT of groundwork that is covered here. There are also multiple time jumps, and a huge cast of characters here which made it hard to follow at times. Many of the side characters just faded into the background for me, and I felt like there were a lot of them that just popped up without much introduction or purpose. As a consequence, I definitely felt like it was a bit too ambitious with what it tried to cover, with some things missing the mark (like Nina’s character believability) and other things being done well (like the fully realised alternate Parisian setting).
While I enjoyed the alternate Parisian setting and the concept of The Court of Miracles, I felt like the book tried to cover too much ground in one setting. This made it hard to relate to the main character at times and gave us limited time to get to know some of the characters. I definitely felt like I would’ve enjoyed it more if I had read the source material, however I would still recommend the book if you enjoy Les Mis, or would like a fascinating book set in historical France.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a review copy!
The Court of Miracles is released today and available for RRP$29.99 at Australian book stores or The Book Depository.
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