3.5 stars, maybe?
This book left me with a collection of mixed feelings. I absolutely adored 90% of this book. But, let’s dive into details, as spoiler-free as possible.
First, let’s talk about just how awesome this book is. The story follows a collection of heroines with ties to famous literary creations, from Sherlock Holmes to Frankenstein. The cast of characters is wide, and every one of them is wonderfully complex. I frequently laughed and sat in awe as the cast came together, each one adding a new and fantastic element to the story.
I also enjoyed the “Canterbury Tales” feel of quite a bit of the novel. The story is a mystery, but more of the mystery is unraveled as we meet new characters and get a chapter of their story. It’s a great concept and works well here.
Several people have mentioned the asides. Some found them enjoyable, others found them distracting from the story. I liked them, as they are the times when we get some great character moments. Other reviewers have talked about how they ruin the tension of the story, because the fate of the characters is revealed through the asides before the narrative proper gets to those fates. While I can understand, for me, what kept me flipping pages was the mystery of the story, not the fates of the individual characters. As such, I didn’t mind the asides at all.
But this is also where I run into the main issue I had with the story. Part of this is due to expectations, I’m sure, but I thought, when I started the book, that it was a standalone novel. It’s not. The book really has two mysteries, and to avoid spoilers, I’ll call them the immediate mystery and the overarching mystery. The overarching mystery is what gets the story rolling, but then the immediate mystery rears its head.
In short, the immediate mystery gets a conclusion (although one that is still uncomfortably open-ended), but the overarching mystery does not. Partly due to my expectations, but mostly because it was the overarching mystery that made me start flipping pages quickly, I was really let down that there would be no answers.
Overall, I still enjoyed this story, even though I personally was disappointed by the ending. I’d still recommend it, just so long as everyone is clear this is just an origin story.