Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Published: March 2013 (first published 2012)
Genre: Young Adult, historical fiction, fantasy, romance
Who doesn’t enjoy a good fairy tale ? I am sure it was this thought which struck Ms. Nickerson when she wrote this book and me, when I decided to pick it up. Boy was I in for a ride.
This has been a book which was on my TBR for months and was done with in less than 2 days. I am sure this may seem like a good thing but it was not. There are books which are so good you can’t put them down. You burn the midnight oil, agonize, celebrate all over the trials of a character or if you are lucky and the book is actually that damn good than many.
This is not one of those books.
I had high expectations quite honestly from this book but this was such a let down I swear I had a headache and I wasn’t even halfway through the first quarter of the book. That usually is a pretty darn good sign things are terrible.
I was so intrigued by the synopsis of the book as provided on Goodreads that I dint pause to add this to my TBR list immediately. May be I should have been patient and bored really. The tale of Bluebeard – the inspiration for this book, a famous French Folktale was unknown to me prior to my tryst with this book. So I searched it on Google and read an article on Wikipedia that enlightened me on the matter.
I was expecting something like A Curse Dark As Gold, a book I read last year which had its basis in the popular tale of Rumpelstiltskin. Perhaps I should have set low standards to begin with considering the heroine of the book Sophia compares one of the black maids working at the palatial mansion of Bernard de Cressac – the hero or should I say the villain of the book’ place with a frog and a homely fairy all at once.
I kid you not. Her precise words were –
Daphne was squat and toadlike and bright of eye, and she walked with the use of a knobby cane. She made me think of a homely fairy working her magic with blooms. She beamed at us and we beamed back.
The only reaction I had to this was
When fairies and toads are spoken in the same sentence and not with regards to spells and curses inflected upon princes or princesses, I can only conceive two scenarios in my head. One the writer is so innovative that the clichés have been done away with and there would be no frog who will croak with delight or the writer has seriously no idea what the hell is going on. Here the later is the case.
From thereon the book goes so downhill I swear it’s a catastrophe of its own kind.
The handling of the plot is so shabby I don’t know honestly what to make of it. In the beginning, it is implied Sophia is quite uncomfortable with the idea of having slaves at all however that never gets addressed. Mrs. Duckworth – yes that’s not a typo, one of the main side characters has a disappearing act of her own in the book. Now she is here now she isn’t. And unfortunately the main protagonist of the book Sophia herself is a bit nauseating in my opinion. The gal is shown as an abolitionist who wants to help the slaves yet all she feels sorry for on visit to Cressac’ cotton fields are their shabby clothes. A pair of slaves who work in Cressac’ mansion are in love so while she wants to help them spend time together if possible help get married but she pities HERSELF for not having a love of her own. She is sorry the only time a guy has taken an interest in her was when she was 15 ( just 2 years ago !) and never since then, so much so she carries around the token of his infatuation a couple of letters with her. A guy she wasn’t even interested in at all and had it not been for her elder sister Anne’ intervention she would have let him continue with his attempts a bit more. Real picture of compassion here folks!
I would not recommend this book at all to anyone and would advice the same to others – unless there is some sort of payback involved 😉