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, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, 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 to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it.
A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern
If you spent your childhood dreaming about being rescued from a dark, tangled forest by a handsome Prince on a charger, wrote magical spells on pieces of paper and stained them with tea to make them look old and imagined having a fairy godmother to make all your wishes come true then you will absolutely love The Shadow In The Glass
This novel is utter escapism and it was exactly the right thing to get me out of my reading slump and turning the pages as I lost myself in its beautifully realised world. It was fabulous to immerse myself myself in the darkly magical story of Ella,and experience her fall from grace now that she has been reduced in stature to be one of the maids. If you loved A Little Princess or Ballet Shoes when you were young, you’ll fall for her story hook, line and sinker as it has that same blend of realism and pathos with absolute escapism.
Ella’s destiny seemed to be a life of luxury, where satin slippers, elegant balls and fabulous opportunities awaited her – sadly, due to forces out with her control, her life of ease and glamour is snatched from her grasp, leaving her with only sackcloth and ashes for her prospects. Who wouldn’t sympathise with her when the book in the library reveals a tempting offer from a fairy godmother – and who wouldn’t be tempted to exchange their soul for seven wishes which could change your life entirely…
We’ve all read enough fairy tales to realise however, that getting exactly what you wanted might just be the beginning of all your troubles and without giving away any spoilers, Ella might end up with a severe case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ I found Ella a fairly relatable character in spite of the fairytale settingy and could empathise with the moral dilemma that she finds herself in, imagining myself in her situation, it is easy to say what you might or might not do – but we are all human and it is very easy indeed to see why she’d have been so tempted
The Shadow in the Glass takes the original and gives it a fresh and original 21st century spin. Fairy tales are a beloved and integral part of so many of our journeys as readers and it was fun and refreshing to come back to these situations as an adult and imagine our responses to this situation from quite a different perspective. Harwood is a skilful and intelligent writer and is definitely creating a tale for grown ups with a dark and mysterious edge – the Princess Diaries this certainly isn’t! The Victorian setting is extremely successful and will definitely appeal to people who have enjoyed the novels of Stacey Halls, Laura Purcell or Ambrose Parry and love thinking about the way that women’s stories and choices were affected by the opportunities available to them at the time
Ella is a character who really grows and develops within the story, as I’ve said the lot for women in this era was not easy and even though this novel is based on a fairy tale, Ella has to wrestle with a great many experiences that are as far from a fairy story as you can imagine. I think that having the original story as such a vivid memory is a fantastic counterpoint to the story and I think this would make a great book group read as just like Angela Carter and The Company of Wolves, this book is thought provoking and challenging rather than escapist and fluffy. It will have your members thinking about the roles available to women, the marriage market, the class-system and so much more. I was gripped by the details as well as the ideas that Harwood presents us with and found her writing style both beautiful and elegant in its prose.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater & Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the Tour, this is a whole new genre for me this season and I found it hugely enjoyable to turn back time and wander into a darkly magical world where almost anything can happen. You should definitely look this book up and order yourself a copy, it’s as stunning on the inside as its beautiful cover and I absolutely recommend it
Check out the other bloggers on the Tour and enjoy hearing what they’ve loved about this original and captivating read
Writer On The Shelf
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.