The Shadow In The Glass by JJA Harwood
A new dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smokeperfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.
18th March 2021 | Voyager Hardback, eBook & audio | £14.99
Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man 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, while among her beloved books, 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 whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…
Melding history and fairy tale, this is a dark and intelligent new take on the story of Cinderella that looks at women, the price of labour and the cost of hope.
This Gothic beauty has a nod to the Cinderella fairy tale. Eleanor/Ella finds herself living in the grand Granborough House under the care of Mrs Pembroke after her mother's death. Mrs Pembroke promises her a life of privilege and wealth but unfortunately after her death Ella finds herself sleeping in the maids quarters at the top of the house, wearing a scratchy woollen uniform and serving Mr Pembroke rather than becoming a member of the family that Mrs Pembroke had promised her. During the evenings Ella would sneak into the library, a place that she used to share with Mrs Pembroke, and read some of her cherished books. One night Ella discovers the black-eyed woman, a fairy godmother? A temptress? Who promises to grant Ella seven wishes and in return wants her soul if and only when all seven wishes have been granted. Ella finds herself caught in a cycle of turmoil as she tries to change the fate of her future and is left to deal with the consequences of her wishes.
This was a fascinating read and one I really enjoyed. Although there was an element of the Cinderella tale woven into the story line it was a magical, mystical read for adults. I loved the historical feel to the novel and the dilemmas that Ella finds herself in. I found myself routing for Ella to escape the confinements of Mr Pembroke's household and started to wonder if the black-eyed woman was responsible for Ella's wishes or whether there was another innocent or sinister reason behind these events. I was completely hooked.
I loved the characters, especially Ella, Leah and Aoife. Although Ella's actions and choices were questionable you knew that she was acting on behalf of her friends and just wanted to achieve a better life for them all. I truly had no idea how the story would end and was constantly surprised by the twists and turns that panned out. I loved the spooky, Gothic feel of the novel, it is dark and very atmospheric giving you a real insight into the streets of Victorian London. I could feel the grime and loud, dangerous bustling streets come alive as Ella was sent on errands, dodging beggars and thieves.
Harwood took twelve years to write this novel and I can truly say I loved every word on the page. Many thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour and Harper Voyager for my gifted copy.
JJA Harwood is an author, editor and blogger. She grew up in Norfolk, read History at the University of Warwick and eventually found her way to London, which is still something of a shock for somebody used to so many fields.
When not writing, she can be found learning languages, cooking with more enthusiasm than skill, wandering off into clearly haunted houses and making friends with stray cats.
THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS is her debut novel.