The Shadow in the Glass follows Ella, but this is not the typical retelling of Cinderella as it highlights one powerful thing: be careful what you wish for.
Dear readers, I was intrigued when I started reading this novel. If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I take a keen interest in fairy tale retellings. Especially one calling this “A smoldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella.”
Admittedly, however, when I was reading it, I had completely forgotten that it was supposed to be a new story about Cinderella. Personally, that made me appreciate the story more because instead of looking for those markers that scream “Cinderella,” I am reading the story for what it was: one of caution.
The Shadow in the Glass did an excellent job of building up the narrative through a female lens. It has a solid historical feel to it that grounds the reader in the realism surrounding the story. Through Ella, the reader is seeing how unfair the world is to women, especially working women. As a maid in the house she serves, the young girls are victimized and assaulted by the man of the house and then turned out onto the streets when they become pregnant.
Ella is on the precipice of being the next victim, and when her stepfather is unable to get his hands on her, his lecherous gaze moves to another younger maid, her temper flares.
The reader can sympathize with Ella; the narrative makes it so easy to do that. Furthermore, with the Faustian twist on the Fairy Godmother, the story is kept unpredictable. Once again, this makes it a unique retelling because while it draws some small illusions to Cinderella, it remains unique and worth the read.
The reader also cannot help but root for Ella. Her wishes are not bad perse. At her core, Ella is a good person. However, she gets caught up in revenge. Ella gets caught up in her idea of justice, and in this Victorian setting, a woman seeking justice is a dangerous thing.
Her ferocity keeps the reader rooting for her until the end. The reader does not want to see Ella wall into the trap Faust fell into, so while the story unfolds, the reader is kept at the edge of their seats wondering how she will save herself.
While I was reading, I just kept thinking to myself, “come on, Ella, save yourself,” and it drove me to see where her journey was taking her.
Interestingly, the price of the seven wishes was her soul, and her fairy godmother tells her every wish takes a piece of her soul. We see this happen, her personality growing colder and colder. The changes are subtle, but they reflect the hardships of the world around her. Having her once-happy childhood ripped from her in a single moment then seeing how the women in this era were poorly treated and diminished fermented her anger at the unfairness.
The Shadow in the Glass was a good book. There are loose ends in the story, especially regarding her childhood and memories she forgot. They are distracting because they do not serve a purpose to the story, and the questions she has, Harwood never answers them, leaving the reader in the dark. Nevertheless, it was a captivating story and certainly a unique way to retell Cinderella.
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|Pub Date: May 4, 2021||Page Count: 416pp||Age Range: 14 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-0-0083-6809-8||Publisher: HarperVoyager||List Price: $26.99|