Fantasy, Historical fiction

Regency Faerie Tales #1,#2,#3 by Olivia Atwater

I was lucky enough to read three books in this series, one after the other. Although the timeline is not direct, it is more fun to see the world develop this way.

Half a Soul:

I shall begin at the very beginning with the first book in the series. There is a novella prequel that I have not read, but this is a good stepping-in point for any reader.
Although I read the blurb and knew what to expect, I did not get what I expected. It felt more than that. I think for the first time, I have found a young adult-type book with romance and fighting and all the pieces that I would recommend to preteens! It still holds well for adults such as myself as well.
The story begins with a girl playing by herself when she is attacked by a faerie who claims to be owed her soul. Her cousin saves her, and then we jump ahead a few years to their own coming out time. This story is not just about the eponymous protagonist with half her soul and who sticks out in a crowd, and how she finds herself feeling whole again (without actually being so). It is also about her relationship with her cousin. She does not necessarily have the emotions to feel beholden, but she veers dangerously close. The interactions and the world were intriguing. The former was emotional and filled with more meaning than at first glance, whereas the latter felt light and managed to work well as the background for everything.
I was emotionally invested in the outcome and enjoyed the writing throughout. There was something naive about Dora without making it seem childlike or too abrupt when it came to her growth arc.
The romance was expected but fun all the same. I was so satisfied with this one that I picked the next almost right away.

Ten Thousand Stitches:

This was my favourite of the three, even though I rate it the same as the first. We have a hard-working maid in a very typical rich household of the 1800s. A chance encounter and the slightest consideration have her obsessing over one of her employers. It felt very realistic, given her life, that a minor action has her putting the man on a pedestal. The turns the story takes from there felt obvious only after I followed them. They were not unexpected in a surprising fashion, making it harder for me to place my own reaction.
Although this follows the events of the previous story and has some repeating members make their appearance, it can be read as a standalone. Our faerie in this one has developed a curiosity for humans and ends up wanting to help Effie. Unlike other fairy tales where either the fairy has evil intentions or helps her entirely, this teeters on the boundary between the two. It felt refreshing and new. It also came at just the right time for me. I was looking for something emotional but not draining to read, and this fit the bill.
The romance here was sweet and not perfect, making it even more endearing.
I think this was the book, on the heels of the previous one, that solidified my appreciation of the genre in which the author has chosen to write.

Long Shadow

This book takes a bit of a time jump from the last two, which were placed closer together (or so it felt). One of the characters introduced in the first, Abigail is now a ward of the first couple we encountered and a magician in her own right (or so she hopes to be). She has been groomed to be part of London Society but tends to fall just short of the mark, thanks to a number of reasons.
During a boring tea, Abigail and Dora hear that people have been discussing the loss of several society girls who had recently entered society formally. There are malicious magical folk hinted at having a hand in it all, and this has Abigail’s interest piqued. She wants to help figure things out, but her father has his work cut out for him.
Abigail is an interesting character to follow. She is a product of different pieces of the adventures that have occurred previously in this world. Life is hard for her, as is finding her happily ever after. In the midst of this, she encounters another girl who seems to know more than she is revealing about all the deaths. This meeting changes how she views herself and the life she previously envisioned for herself.
It has a more diverse approach to the romance in the tale than either of the previous ones, and the author’s note at the end also attests to how she consciously tried to do something different. That and the concept of grief are explored in this, making it a more serious adventure with magic and secrets than the romantic narrative I was expecting( although there are more profound moments for Abigail here as well).
It was more fast-paced than the previous adventures, but I was hoping for more of the same from my other readings, and this is probably the only reason that I rated this differently.
I would still recommend this to anyone who finds the blurb even mildly interesting because the author has built many vibrant characters, and their interactions are entertaining.

I received ARCs thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the reviews are entirely based on my own reading experience.


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