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  • Shame about the Les Mis fanfic

    “Do not cry for me, I am already dead." "No, not dead, the dead at least are free.” The Court of Miracles was a real Jekyll and Hyde of a book for me. On the one side there is a sweeping fantasy story about the unofficial guilds of the city of Paris (including Assassins, Thieves and Beggars) and then on the other side there is bad Les Misérables fanfiction. We’ll start with the fantasy element, I enjoyed the character of Nina, the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild and our main character through the story. She is fierce and single-handedly seems to save every situation and come up with the solution to every problem she is faced with. I liked having a strong female lead but I also felt the fact she seemed to be able to do at least 3 things that had been written off by everyone else as ‘impossible’ was a little unrealistic. I enjoyed some of the other characters; Ettie although annoying in places also had a naïve heart of gold and the villain of the piece called The Tiger was aptly evil and his treatment of those around him was vicious. The book is genuinely dark in places and I enjoyed that the author pulled no punches with their plot. I also really enjoyed the folklore stories which are told at the start of each act, these have parallels to the action going on and were a good length to be absorbing and not distracting from the plot. I also liked the idea of the guilds, however I thought a lot of them were very under-explored and I got very confused about one of the ones we did meet. Ettie and Nina go into the hall of the Guild of Assassins to meet with the Dead Lord, but then one of them gets joined to the House of Beggars and not the House of Assassins which really confused me – are they part of the same house? I didn’t like the choppy nature of the acts and the fickle nature of Nina at times though. In Act 1 she has a sister Azelma who is sold to the villainous Tiger. She spends all of Act 1 furious and trying to do everything she could to save her sister. Then Act 2 jumps a few years and suddenly she has an unexplained new sister Ettie who she would give her life for and also tries to spend the entire act trying to save. It seems like she has completely given up on Sister 1 at this point which seemed a little unrealistic. Then Act 3 skips forward ahead in time some more and this is where the Les Mis storyline kicks in. As someone who works in theatre I love musicals, however I must mention that Les Mis is one of my least favourites. This is not, as I had thought (feared!) a re-telling of the story. It’s more that the author plagiarises the material, taking character names and traits and a few very loose plot points and tries to wedge them into her narrative. This comes across as jarring as the plot is so different and having a character called Valjean and then point out that he is ‘prisoner 24601’ made my eyes roll and really took me out of the fantasy world Grant had painted up until that point. Overall, The Court of Miracles is a good fantasy book, it’s just such a shame that the author tried to wedge her Les Mis fanfic into the plot as well. For this reason, I don’t think I’ll be on the look out for the next book in the series I’m afraid. Thank you to NetGalley & Harper Collins UK – HarperFiction & Harper Voyager for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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