Thursday, January 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley {Review + Giveaway}

Release date: January 5, 2016
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Amulet
Pages: 352
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.
What a fascinating book! As a big Jane Eyre (and to a lesser scale Wuthering Heights) fan, any book that fictionalizes the Brontës certainly catches my attention. I am a bit discerning with them, however. Worlds of Ink and Shadow is only the second I've read.

The concept is wonderful, a way to give order and reason to the tragedy of the Brontë family's story. Of the children, two daughters died very young, then Branwell (the only son), Emily, and Anne all died within a year of one another. Charlotte, the last Brontë child, died at 38--and their father outlived them all. Not only does Lena Coakley give us an imaginative reasoning for the children's shortened lives, but she weaves deeply intricate relationships among them, giving their storytelling and the story they live real life. She also gives the book a rather Gothic tone, with the winds from the moors rattling windows, ghosts popping in and out, and mysterious creatures showing up in the middle of the night--all of which works perfectly, of course, for a novel about the Brontës.

As a novel itself, without any appreciation of the Brontë's novels, Worlds of Ink and Shadow is very good. The glitz of Verdopolis and its goings on contrasts strongly with their real world, working as an escape for both the characters and the reader. Who doesn't want to be able to create their own world and then live out the events? Attending parties, creating scandal, and influencing decisions? Yet, having some knowledge of the Brontë novels and their backstory only makes it better. There are countless moments that are so clearly inspired by scenes, characters, and places in the novels (speaking as someone who has read Jane Eyre, Villette, and Wuthering Heights--I'm sure having read Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Charlotte's other novels would have given even more fodder) and it's such a treat to seek them out.

Though I do love how Lena Coakley has given the Brontës the rich fantasy lives no one expected out of them (people were shocked three parson's daughters who lived in such isolation could write the kinds of books they did) but that they surprised people with, I wish the girls, as characters, had ventured a little more out of the expected, found a little of the depth and fullness they found their own characters possessed.

All in all, though, I'm a fan. I love the idea of what could be and I loved how intricate the goings on in the parsonage were, all with their father largely in the dark. Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a fascinating read.

About the author:

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, Creative Writing was the only course she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Toronto, Canada. Witchlanders was her debut novel.
Visit Lena online:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy online: BAM | Chapters | IndieBound | | | B&N | TBD | iBooks

1 grand prize winner will receive a Brontë basket courtesy of the author (pictured)!
10 winners will receive a copy of WORLDS OF INK AND SHADOW!
5 winners will receive a black Brontë bonnet!

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