The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles #1) by Kester Grant

CourtofLet me start this review by saying I really enjoyed The Court of Miracles.  At a time when my concentration has been a little lacking (at best) this book really drew me in.  I enjoyed the writing, the atmosphere and the world and it was always a pleasure to return.  All that being said I’m going to turn things on there head a little and address some of the hype and other notions that are attached to this book.

This book is being marketed as a number of things, not least a retelling of Les Miserables meets Jungle Book meets Six of Crows.  Strong comparisons indeed for some very popular works of fiction and I might also add, just to complicate the mix even more, I picked up nuances of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and even a sprinkling of Dickens with the Ghosts of the story having a strange resemblance to Fagin’s ragtag gang of pickpockets.

So, this book is clearly influenced by Les Mis but I wouldn’t call it a retelling as such and to be honest I think you could pick this up without any knowledge of this particular classic and you wouldn’t be disadvantaged at all.  For me, being a little familiar with that tale, it was interesting to hear the names and make some of the connections how they fit together but I think you could pick this up without knowing anything about Les Mis and enjoy it simply for what it is.  The Jungle Book suggestion – well, there is a rather nasty character known as the Tiger who stalks innocent young people, and there are a good number of characters named for animals – such as Loup – but that’s about as far as that goes.  Finally, Six of Crows – well, this book lives in the seedy underworld of an alternate historical Paris with all the grime, crime and suffering you would expect.  The Court of Miracles is made up of nine criminal factions, thieves, assassins, smugglers, etc, each ruled by a crime Lord – for example The Tiger is the Flesh Lord – I’m sure you can figure out his particular house.  The Lords adhere to a strict criminal code which prevents infighting and all out war between the different factions although some do bend the rules.  However, a heist, this is not. All that out of the way, lets focus on my thoughts.

As the story begins we meet Eponine (Nina).  Her sister is taken by the Tiger and this provides the fuel for the story and the motivation for most of her actions.  She becomes a daughter of the Lord of Thieves and, being young and nimble, a cat burglar of talent.  Cosette (Ettie) is Nina’s adopted younger sister and also a pawn in the longer game.  Ettie is beautiful and, in a brutal world, remains charmingly innocent – a strange combination that was always going to attract the wrong attention.

The majority of the story revolves around Nina seemingly jumping from one task to the other in pursuit of her own goals and in a desperate attempt to win friends and influence people who can help her.  At times this can lead to a slightly jumbled feeling or at least a sense that the story lacks a strong cohesive focus but I can’t deny I enjoyed all Nina’s adventures and I would say you have to keep in mind the longer picture and what it’s all working towards.

In terms of the world building.  This is an alternate version of Paris, the French Revolution failed, the Royals are still eating cake and the social divide is yawning wider than ever.  People are dying on the streets, bodies piled unceremoniously and voices of discontent are gathering behind closed doors.  Revolution is in the air but whilst young men dream of wild pursuits and overthrowing the nobility the Royals are also scheming.

I really enjoyed the author’s writing.  There is a real sense of atmosphere and I loved reading about Paris and picking up the references to various very well known places.

Criticisms.  Nothing that spoiled the read for me but perhaps worth mentioning.  Ettie seems to have no end of admirers – at least three gentlemen seem enamoured by her even though she seems completely oblivious and the Lords themselves also give her a lot of leeway.  I wouldn’t say the potential romantic element was a problem as such as this is more incidental rather than central to the plot – although it does mean that Ettie frequently seems to have assistance when she gets into sticky situations and I think I would have preferred her to use her own cunning a little more in some of these situations.  There is also an element of Ettie being unreasonably good at what she does.  I’m just going to say – go with it.  If you’re expecting explanations of why she’s so good or how she achieves such miraculous stunts then you’ll be disappointed because this isn’t part of the story.  She just is.  Enough said. Also, the fantasy elements of this, so far, are more based on the alternate history as oppose to magic, monsters or other fantastical elements.

Criticisms and slight detours aside I really enjoyed this.  It kept me fully immersed and I never had any hesitation in returning to the world.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles #1) by Kester Grant

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles #1) by Kester Grant – and here’s why I’m so excited:

CourtofMiracles.jpgA 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.

For fans of the gritty criminal underworlds of Six Of Crows, The Lies Of Locke Lamora, fierce alternate histories like The Gilded Wolves, And I Darken …and anyone who knows that Eponine deserved so much more.

Expected Publication : June 2020