Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

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Title: Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Author: Lena Coakley

Genre: Factual Retelling/Fantasy

Rating: ****

Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a factual fictionalized retelling of the lives of the Bronte children; Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell told from their individual points of view. For anyone who has read anything by the Brontes or studied them that this is no easy feat to write a story about their lives, and for this I greatly praise Lena Coakley.

The opening chapter was great it caught my attention as I have read one or two of the Brontes novels and wanted to know more about their lives, but it wasn’t like other retellings I’ve read where it grabs my attention and forces me to read more.

I liked the fact that when Charlotte and Branwell are writing they are literally transported into their novels and become characters, when Charlotte is transported she becomes Charles a ten-year-old boy. While the other sisters are snooping around their study reading what they (the invisible pens) are writing.

I also loved the sibling rivalry between Charlotte and Branwell – Charlotte wants her story to have a happy ending and Branwell wants to kill one of Charlotte’s main characters, thereby destroying her happy ending. I also liked the fact they can change things within the novels by thought like the colour of a dress.

The father symbolizes the social thoughts and feelings of the time, he believes Charlotte’s writing to be a childish habit and it is a waste of her energies that could be spent on better things. I also have a strange feeling that Anne or Emily played a part in this scolding as all the writing where hidden and only the 4 children knew where, so someone secretly gave the paper to their father.

Charlotte and Branwell despite both having artistic and literary talent don’t get along well and argue frequently. Mainly about what Branwell was given that Charlotte can’t have; a expensive art teacher and the respect of her father purely because she is a woman but this is very typical of the time but seems rather cruel looking back on it now.

Anne seems to be stuck between three warring siblings with virtually no voice at all expect for her own voice echoing inside her head with things she should say but can’t. Branwell is also stressed as he keeps hearing the voice of his mother’s ghost.

After some carefully consideration Charlotte and Branwell agree to write one last story to end the series they had been writing and close the door to the magical world once and for all. But Charlotte feels are sense of obligation to take Anne and Emily too as they helped create and shape their magic world. And I have a feeling this is going to go very wrong especially where Emily is concerned as she is completely enamoured with the bad guy Alexander Rogue.

This book feels like a sequel and there are a lot of hints that there was a previous novel that explains how the world came to be, why the younger sisters were banished and what the price is that Charlotte and Branwell have to pay for crossing over?

Emily and Anne are complete opposites and I’m not quite sure they were paired together. Anne is shy, meek and never speaks out of turn while Emily is outgoing and often ruled by her emotions. Myself personally I would have paired Branwell and Emily and Charlotte and Anne but the Coakley has her own reasons behind the pairings here.

As I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews I can’t go into too much detail about the bulk of the novel, but this will appeal to fantasy, romance, historical and retelling fiction fans.

Overall the characters were likeable but the only one I truly connected with was Anne. The plot development with some great twists and turns scattered throughout, the writing was beautiful. Overall this story was utter bliss and I can’t wait to read more but this author.

I strongly urge everyone to pick up this book and devour it cover to cover like I did. A highly suspenseful and it gives nothing away right till the very end. A highly enjoyable read!

*This Book was sent to me by Abrams & Chronicle*

Buy it here:


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