Saturday, December 5, 2015

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

worlds of ink and shadow
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley
Released: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: received a NetGalley e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Goodread | Amazon

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. (from Goodreads)

Here's the thing - I'm not a fan of biographical fiction because it's an oxymoron. HOWEVER, once fantasy is added, I am far more amenable. In this fantastical account of the famous Brontes, we get to see and explore what led to these homely parson's children becoming some of the most celebrated authors in history. And quite frankly, I almost want to believe this account over the real biography. I'm just putting that out there.

I am a huge Bronte fan; of Charlotte and Emily. I haven't gotten around to reading Anne but that will happen! Team Bronte all the way over Team Austen! When I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights back to back for a high school project, I closed their pages wondering how these two brilliant women could come from the same family and be wildly different in style and voice. They are fascinating people, and the moment I saw Worlds of Ink and Shadow I had to commend Lena Coakley for taking on such a profoundly huge subject matter. That took guts! Not only that, she wrote Charlotte and Branwell and Emily and Anne with such individual, precise, organic voices that I finally understand that question I had!

There was one thing that I regretted after reading this book - I regret Branwell Bronte never publishing a novel. After reading this book, based on the Bronte's real childhood writings, I am thoroughly intrigued by this lesser known Branwell Bronte. Coakley also delves into, however briefly, why Branwell isn't as famous as his sisters, why only a portrait of them, with his own face blotched out, is his claim to any amount of fame. Even though that subject was broached for only a short time, I appreciated it. Now I can imagine Branwell's wicked mind producing something that could have rivaled Wuthering Heights, could have been the link between the differences in Emily and Charlotte's writing style. I enjoyed getting to know Branwell Bronte.

I enjoyed learning of their characters - Rogue and Zamorna - who could have been the basis for characters like Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester. It makes me want to read the Bronte juvenilia for myself! And isn't that one of the points to writing? To encourage MORE reading? This book didn't just satisfy my taste for all things Bronte; it made me curious; it made me want more! Some criticize a book/retelling for not being perfectly accurate, but I think that if a book can encourage someone to learn more about the subject matter then it has done its job. Like the fantasy infused animated movie, Anastasia, that triggered my undying love for all things Romanov. Worlds of Ink and Shadow did its job in promoting the incredible minds of the Bronte children. I give it a round of applause.

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