Read this book.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I’m a sucker for a book with literary allusion and homage (in case you couldn’t tell by my raving review of Dotty and the Calendar House Key) and this one was a treat.
On top of being chock-full of direct references and allusion (to both books, and fine art), the book itself was like an allusion to Edith Wharton‘s The House of Mirth (which Cashore references in the story and acknowledges in the Author’s Notes), with each section paying homage to some of my favorite genres.
When I read on the back cover blurb, “One choice leads Jane into a HEIST MYSTERY. Another takes her into a SPY THRILLER. She finds herself in a GOTHIC HORROR STORY, a SPACE OPERA, and an extraordinary FANTASY realm,” I thought okay, how on earth do you pull that off? But let me tell you, Cashore has some serious skills. This novel read like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, without the work of actually having to choose and go back to see the other outcomes.
And to top it all off, the main character, Jane, is a (mostly) self-reliant young woman who (thank goodness) does not automatically fall for any of the obligatory (but not lead) male characters. She is witty, smart, artistic (she makes custom umbrellas, how cool is that?), and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself, or stand out from the crowd. Jane has all the characteristics I try to encourage in my own daughter.
For those who are interested in the artistic side of the physical book, the dust jacket on this hardcover is gorgeous. I prefer paperback and sometimes those covers aren’t as nice as the hardcover dust jackets; I might have to buy the hardcover now just so it can sparkle in all my #shelfies.