Coakley, Lena. Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontes.
4Q * 4P * J * S
Coakley, Lena. Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontes. Amulet/Abrams, 2016. 352p. $17.95. 978-1-4197-1034-6.
Years after the deaths of the two oldest Bronte sisters, the remaining four siblings, now in their teens--romantic Charlotte, brooding Branwell, peculiar Emily, and sensible Anne--are still in the aftershock of grief and steeping in bleak thoughts of the future. What is there to do except escape into their imaginary world of Verdopolis, where the bandit Rogue is thwarted time and time again by the dashing Duke of Zamorna. Charlotte and Branwell have a dark secret, one they are not sharing with their younger sisters. The secret is not the fact that they are able to literally cross into their written stories. The secret is how they are able to achieve this magic. What price did they agree to? And why have they taken crossing over away from Emily and Anne? Emily will do anything to go back, even promise the same high price. But once promised, the price can only get higher.
What initially may seem like an absurd twist for the telling of Bronte history turns out to be a brilliant metaphor of over-imagination and obsession, of writing and characters, of addiction and escape. Bronte fans will recognize the juvenilia characters as early signs of Rochester and Heathcliff, but the frame story itself as another Faustian tragedy. It is a slow, haunting build, rotating perspectives among the four Brontes. Sometimes it is difficult to discern between reality and imagination, but this only enriches the theme of madness and being haunted by their own creations. This is for gothic fans, but likely not for the Bronte purist.--Jane Gov.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow is the perfect read for new and old fans of fantasy alike, to reawaken their love for the genre that does not hit the bestsellers list as often as it should. It is a truly stunning story, from the vintage atmosphere to the constant suspense, from the beautiful imagery to the stress of familial love over romance. This is a read not to be missed. 5Q, 4P.--Hadley Willman, Teen Reviewer.