When Lucinda was small, her parents died in a terrible accident on their way to a royal ball. Now she lives a Cinderella existence in her grasping, abusive Aunt’s jewelry shop — until an urchin thief named Peter and the mysterious Amaranth Witch change Lucinda’s life forever.
The broad strokes of this book are your basic riches-to-rags-to-riches fairy tale. Lucinda falls for the prince and comes into her own, with some sparkly ball scenes thrown in for good measure. And hello, airbrushed photo of a white girl in a fancy dress! What a refreshing surprise to see you there on the cover! *cough*
The details, however, are clever, original, and touching. The story is full of genuine surprises, from the origin of the Amaranth Witch to the backstories of certain other major players. (I don’t want to give anything important away; there are so many twists and turns!) I realized early on that I wasn’t at all sure where the story was going, but I couldn’t wait to find out.
For fans of Shannon Hale or Graceling or Alanna; anyone who wants a good adventure/romance and doesn’t mind a hefty dose of fantasy. In other words, pretty much exactly who’ll pick up the book based on the cover. There are some major plot holes (more below the spoiler space), but they might not matter to everyone, and the book is still a hell of a lot of fun!
I want to talk about this book more, so here’s your spoiler warning. If you think you’ll read this, don’t let yourself be spoiled!
Ok, plot holes:
Where did Prince Gregor think Peter got the stone that he bought from him? Peter is a grubby street kid, well-known for being an expert thief. Don’t pretend that you thought the stone’s provenance was entirely on the up-and-up, Greg.
Also in the “Gregor’s a little thick” vein, why on earth wouldn’t he expect Lucinda to see his engagement as an impediment to their relationship?
And finally, the travel between Beryl’s world and ours makes no sense. If she could go back once she had her stone and was “pure of heart” or whatever, why couldn’t she go back right away, before she killed her fiance? And why couldn’t the volunteers who go down the well with the exiles come back right away with their stones? This was such a neat book that I wanted the world-building to line up, and it often didn’t seem to. Alas.
Plus, this is so not an Anti-Destiny Book. Only people born to wealth and privilege achieve wealth and privilege at the end — Lucinda and Peter, both born rich and raised poor, end up in the palace. I find this fairy tale convention tiresome. Still fun, though!