Title: The Shadow in the Glass
Author: J.J.A. Harwood
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy Retellings
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.
This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I split my reading between the eARC and the audiobook via Audible.
Jfc, this was honestly so boring. Ella was just such an annoying character. And the ending. The ending pissed me off, because it leaves so much up in the air.
I had high hopes for this book. It was supposed to be a dark, gothic take on Cinderella, and while it was darker, it was boring as hell.
Ella – our “Cinderella Character” is tedious, and honestly quite dumb. Her whole personality is “I was jilted out of becoming a lady” and it was obnoxious. I can understand how and why she might be upset, but she never finds a purpose outside of lament of what should have been. In Cinderella stories, you’re supposed to feel for the character, and I just wanted to shake her and tell her to grow up. And then there is the whole “Fairy Godmother” character *cough* not a Bippity Boppity Boo kind of Wish Granter *cough* and that whole mess. The mess of 7 wishes, and Ella going on and on about how they’re not worth the cost, and then makes them anyway. And then it’s a crisis on conscious. And this happens every single time. It’s beyond repetitive. And then she’s somehow the victim.
The love interest was marginally more interesting – but I think that was me projecting my hopes that he would be the Prince Charming character and save her. If only to shut up her whining.
But no, not really. He’s all “I didn’t know of your circumstances” and “I’m sorry” and other bullshit responses. I still liked him more than Ella.
As for his fiancé, I’m assuming she was one half of the evil stepsisters – Lizzie being the other. And talking about evil – Lizzie is 100% terrible and her fate is 100% justified. The fiancé was just terrible for no reason. We don’t get enough on her backstory to really care about her, so she just comes across as a bitch to be a bitch.
I had high hopes for this – it could have been dark, atmospheric and magical, but instead it’s just a mess, full of abuse and unlikeable characters. It definitely didn’t work for me.
While I didn’t care for any part of this book – not really, there was one part that really – and I mean really rubbed me the wrong way. This very well might be a trigger for some – i.e. abortion/miscarriage, so if that’s not for you, skip this next spoiler part.
Spoiler up ahead.
When Ella finally starts sleeping with the love interest – Charles – of course it’s unprotected. It’s the 19th century after all – contraceptives, where?
And of course, unprotected sex can lead to pregnancies. We’re not even going to touch on the fact that I hate pregnancies in books.
Anways, Charles finds out – and he’s happy. Like, lovingly touches her stomach, ready to start a family with her. While Charles isn’t the most interesting of characters – he does seem to genuinely care about Ella, wants to take care of her, love her, cherish her – the whole nine yards.
Ella wants to travel the world, see everything and doesn’t want a baby to get in the way of her dreams.
Okay…understandable – but bitch, you chose to have sex.
But moving on. Some other things happen, her guardian presented with the option to either get rid of the baby and be paid off, or let go with no chance in hell of ever seeing Charles again.
So she uses one of her wishes to wish the baby away.
At this point in the book, I was so over Ella. Now, I’m all for you choosing what’s best for you, but this rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t express enough how uncomfortable this whole thing made me. I did not like. I don’t know if it was the way it was written, my dislike for Ella as a character, or my care for Charles and his happiness – but I had to take a break from listening to the audiobook because I felt uncomfortable in my own body. I wasn’t a fan.
And while we’re here in the spoiler section of this review. The ending sucked. I’m sorry. It sucked. Ella finally deciding to grow a backbone, after basically wrecking the lives of those around her…
And then for her to face off against the devil (Fairy Godmother) who now owns her soul – and it basically fade to black, no one knows what happened to her. Miss me with that bullshit. At this point, all I could think was Charles deserved so much better.