The Court of Miracles
by Kester Grant
4 out of 5
Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris's criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
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.
Nina is just one black cat, but she soon proves she has the skill to impress the guilds of the Wretched.
On a mission to save her sister, there is nothing she will not do.
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book takes the characters and setting from Les Mis, and creates a court, guilds and law for the Wretched - the beggars, thieves and spies etc.
It focusses on Nina (Eponine) - her sister Azelma is sold to the Flesh guild by their own father, and the only way that Nina will be safe from his drunken rage will be if she joins one of the guilds.
As an adept thief, she is soon welcomed in.
Nina is devoted to her guild, and stands by the laws of the Wretched, believing they will protect her, and anyone who needs them. But her adopted sister Ettie (Cosette) is so stunningly beautiful that the Tiger and his Guild of Flesh would do anything to possess her; Nina starts to realise how rotten the court has become.
I really enjoyed most of this book. Despite the fact that it is based on possibly one of the most depressing stories (I cried like a baby at the musical) - the story never forgets its roots, or the harshness of the world, but it was easy to follow Nina on her passionate crusade, with her adorably naive sidekick Ettie.
Nina dares to go where no thief has (successfully) gone before, and the plot is entirely fresh and different from the original.
I thought Nina was incredibly clever, rarely allowing her emotions to cloud her from the bigger picture. She has the growing attention of several men, but in this version, she's not violently in love with any of them. (Not yet anyway)
The jumps in time were the biggest issue. They really disrupted the rhythm. There's no warning or explanation, and it takes a couple of pages to work out that there had been a time skip of 5 years, or 2 months, or 2 years.
Skips are fine, but I think these could have been orchestrated better.
I know this is a weird thing to say with all the beatings and hardships that Nina endured, but each of her big plans seemed to go too smoothly, even when they didn't go to - um... plan.
I don't know, maybe it's because it was so focussed on Nina's skill and confidence, that I never felt she was going to lose.
Overall, I enjoyed this and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.