Prostitution, abuse, gun violence, blood, famine, poison, death
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
I’ll admit it, I was rather skeptical of the idea of a Les Misérables retelling. In my opinion, retelling a classic work of historical fiction is much different than retelling a fable, fairy tale, or myth. I was worried that the author was just going to steal Victor Hugo’s world and characters… or worse: completely butcher them.
But I’m happy to say neither of those things occurred! I actually enjoyed this book quite a lot, to say the least.
Though we didn’t get much of an exposition, the story is fast-paced and gripping right off the bat. I found myself reading long into the night, eager to know what would happen next and how the elements of Hugo’s original novel would fit into the plot. You can definitely recognize the similarities between Les Mis and The Court of Miracles, but overall, they are two completely different stories. It was also quite interesting to see how the Jungle Book inspired aspect of the story played out. Before reading this book, I was unaware that it was a Les-Mis-Jungle-Book-mash-up. Now, knowing that it is, I can totally appreciate the author’s creativity when it came to combining elements of both stories in her own book.
I really loved the politics of the world as well. The laws of the Miracle Court added a great deal of complexity to the plot, and the tension between the different guilds was very interesting to read. I appreciate that the author didn’t just copy and paste Victor Hugo’s world into her own story… she created her own complex political system that was completely original to her book.
Now let’s talk about characters, an aspect of the story that was honestly pretty mediocre. Nina was an okay protagonist, but she had the potential to have so much more depth and complexity. She had a terribly rough childhood and a very abusive father, but the author didn’t use said backstory to further flesh out her character… Talk about wasted opportunities! I really would have liked to see more of the dynamic between Nina and her father, as I think it would’ve helped develop her character more.
Ettie wasn’t the most interesting character either, but I do think that her child-like innocence added a great element to the story. (But seriously, why couldn’t the author just keep her name as Cosette? The name “Ettie” makes me want to vomit).
I do understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, so there will be more character development in future books. Still, though, I wish the characters hadn’t come off as bland as they did in book one.
But despite that, I still had a fun time reading this book! It was an exciting, fast-paced story that kept me hooked until the very last page. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a unique book that contains hints of several classic stories we all know and love!