Review: The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A Hardwood


My Rating: 8/10

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

“I’d like to propose a bargain. I will offer you seven wishes. Whatever you ask for, I shall grant you. There are few limits.”

I finished The Shadow in the Glass with my mouth agape. I truly did not expect the ending and because this is a retelling of Cinderella, it hit me even harder. Honestly, it took me by surprise and pissed me off a little bit– it was brilliant. My hat is off to J.J.A Hardwood and I want to give a special thanks to Alex Serrano from Harper Collins for sending me a copy.

This isn’t your average fairytale and I’m glad for that. I have been loving these dark, gothic renditions lately. The Shadow in the Glass took me by the hand and yanked me into the depths of this sinister tale. To start off, I will add some trigger warnings for the grooming preformed by the master of the house which leads to pregnancy in some of his wards. You’ll find murder, death, pregnancy loss, and plenty of deception in this novel as well as some non-graphic but consensual sex.

The main character Eleanor was as charming as she was exasperating. Some of the decisions she made would cause me to shake my head. She’s offered seven wishes in exchange for her soul and the first one she wastes on an extremely thoughtless wish. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her to awareness. This is your soul, girl! This moment also served to teach her a lesson, so it wasn’t unwarranted by the author. Even thought some of her decisions were absolutely ridiculous, Eleanor is a sweet and well meaning woman, adjusting to life as servant after years of pampering. She is determined and takes risks as she tries to protect the other girls from their employer’s advances. There are many brutal moments throughout the novel as Eleanor’s wishes have a consequence to balance out the order in the universe.

“Wishes were supposed to be nice things. They were granted by smiling fairy godmothers and left everyone living happily ever after. They couldn’t leave her like this – lost in horror and disgust that was deep enough to drown in.

As Eleanor makes these wishes, you can see her losing a part of herself. At times, even though I loved her character, I didn’t like who she was becoming. She becomes greedy and reckless while trying to keep a grasp on the life she wants. There’s a final moment of reckoning where she has to face the person she is and the chaos her wishes have caused that lead to the shocking finale. When you close a book and you’re unsure if you hated or loved the outcome, you know the author did a cracking good job. Sometimes books shouldn’t end the way you wanted or expected them to. There are going to be people that hate this novel simply because of the ending. There’s going to be people that hate this novel because of the main character. In my opinion, those people would be missing the point of the story and the masterful crafting of morally grey characters.

Hardwood also does an amazing job of pulling you into Eleanor’s mind. There were moments that I was cringing for her and moments I was appalled at the way she was treated. You know that secondhand anxiety you get from reading a character’s experience? Our author did an excellent job cultivating that intense feeling.

There were passages that I felt there was too much description or that Eleanor was too much in her head, but I think that was because I was eager to see how the story ended and not because it was excessive or meandering. All in all, I’m very satisfied with this read and would love to read more from Hardwood. This book came out this week on May 4th, 2021 so go grab yourself a copy!

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