#BlogTour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A. Harwood

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J. A. Harwood. A dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

About the Author

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.

Follow @JJAHarwood @HarperVoyagerUK on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jowritesstuff.wordpress.com,  #TheShadowIntheGlass

About the book

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.

Review

Poor Ella should be in a more suitable and respectable position. Her former mistress had such plans for her, but unfortunately life has decided to twist the knife. Instead she has been relegated to the life of a skivvy working in a household with vindictive fellow housemaids and a master who thinks servitude equals his gratification – if he so wishes.

After a particularly bad encounter with a conniving wench, Ella finds herself confronted with a business proposition of sorts. She gets her hearts desire and in turn she owes something priceless – nothing is ever for free, everything has a price. Sometimes the price is very dear indeed.

It’s soon apparent that having your wishes granted is literally too good to be true, when each wish takes on a bit of a morbid and sometimes lethal slant. Nothing is ever clear cut when it comes to magic, folklore or those elements in the atmosphere we just can’t explain.

In this gothic retelling of a fairytale which has similarities to Cinderella, the author takes the essence of the story back to its roots, which is dark and not the Disneyesque version everyone knows. This version with all of its somber reality and stark consequences is more in line with any original so-called fairytales.

The author gives old morals and troubles a more modern twist, albeit ones set in a time where class structures determined whether you were at the top of the hierarchy pyramid or at the bottom and at the mercy of wealthy predators.

It’s a riveting tale of magical realism with a hook into the magic of fairytales, whilst skimming the reality of hidden desires and uncomfortable truths. An excellent debut novel.

Buy The Shadow in the Glass at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Voyager; pub date 18th March 2021 – Hardback, eBook & audio | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney. Delaney aka Sally Gardner, has a talent for turning the wicked and macabre into captivating tales full of magical and mystical elements.

If you decide to buy a hardcopy or paperback version of this book, I highly recommend the hardcover both for bookworms, who love a handsome physical copy, and as a present. It is absolutely stunning!

About the Author

Wray Delaney is the pseudonym of the award winning novelist Sally Gardner. She has sold over 2 million books in the UK and her work has been translated in to more than 22 languages. She has won both the Costa Children’s Book Prize and the Carnegie Medal 2013 for Maggot Moon. She also won the 2005 Nestle Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel I, Coriander. She writes books for children aged seven and upwards.

The Beauty of the Wolf is her second adult novel. Her debut adult novel, An Almond for a Parrot is a fascinating combination of historical fiction with a cheeky touch of soft erotica.The Beauty of the Wolf is a timely, feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reversing the gender roles of the original fairytale with subtle undercurrents of topical themes such as gender and sexuality and body positivity. 

Follow @TheSallyGardner @fictionpubteam @HQStorieson Goodreads,  Visit sallygardner.net

Buy The Beauty of the Wolf

About the book

In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, a period of ruffles and lace, of wrought velvet and blanched satins, two newborn babes are cursed, one with unimaginable beauty and the other, in its mirror image, a beast. But how could beauty ever be a curse?

Not only will all be blind to Beau’s true self, for all will lust after him but none will have the power to see past such an enchanted face – but the curse shall cause his own father’s death.

Meanwhile the beast, Randa, is locked away in her father’s cellar – lonely and hidden away. She longs for love, but how could anyone ever see past her wings and beak and fierce talons?

Is it possible that these two cursed creatures, each the mirror image of the other, could be one another’s salvation when all hope is lost?

Review

Delaney is channelling her inner Brothers Grimm in this modern retelling of the old classic The Beauty and the Beast. The original, dark and twisted Grimm, not the politically correct revamped and toned down versions we read as children or to our own children at bedtime. Yes, I do know Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve wrote the Beauty and the Beast. I am talking about the gritty, brutal and noirish quality of original fairytales in general.

The author has written the story with an old school pen and tongue. It is a very ‘Do you become a rose-tree, and I the rose upon it’ kind of story.

I am actually going to go out on a limb here, perhaps even the pirates plank, and suggest that the reader leave behind any known version or connotations in relation to the story this is based on. Let me tell you why.

Personally I think the story would have worked just as well, possibly better without the in your face connection to the original premise. By all means mention the inspiration in the author’s note for instance. This story is a tale unto itself and deserves to be stood alone on the podium without any ghosts of the past swirling around it. As it stands readers may be reading and comparing during the entire read.

I believe turning the roles upside down and inside out is important in a world where women and girls are defined by their beauty or lack of it in the majority of stories. Girls grow up being shown by advertising industries, television, movies and life in general, a version of themselves they are supposed to aspire to, regardless of whether they can or not. What remains are generations of women who suffer from insecurity, mental health issues and an overwhelming sense of never being good enough. In a way Randa is that insecure ugly duckling.

Wray Delaney, which is the pseudonym of the successful award winning novelist Sally Gardner, has a talent for turning the wicked and macabre into captivating tales full of magical and mystical elements. She has the ability to pull the reader deep into her world. I hope this isn’t her last venture into the adult world of books.

Buy The Beauty of the Wolf at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ; pub date 21 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon comat Waterstones

Read my review of An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney