“I’d like to propose a bargain. I will offer you seven wishes. Whatever you ask for, I shall grant you. There are few limits.”
Set to be released on 18th March, The Shadow In The Glass by J.J.A. Harwood is a dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop that follows housemaid Eleanor, who is forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather. Her only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price, and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it.
Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A period gothic with the delicate feel of historical fiction, The Shadow In The Glass is an ominous and atmospheric fantasy that questions what price you would pay for the things you desire most.
When I read that this was a dark spin on the classic Cinderella fairytale, I was instantly intrigued. And while the synopsis emphasises that this is a twisted tale, I still wasn’t expecting it to be quite this dark. But the darkness doesn’t come from gruesome descriptions or aching details of abuse, rather it’s the hard-hitting impact of the unsaid events that happen in the background.
Harwood uses great detail to describe the setting and paints each character in full colour. Ella is complex and flawed, but easy to relate to in her care for others. She wants for herself and for her female friends what any girl should grow up to have – a safe home, and loving company. But with the circumstances that Ella is faced with, she is forced to turn to an unwelcome guest who promises her hope of a better life.
What drew me in so deeply about this story is that there are a number of ways that you can read it. Ella’s intentions don’t appear selfish from the outside at least, but the hints about her past suggest something much more sinister is going on. But sometimes fairy tales do happen, even without the happily ever afters, so it’s up to you to decide how you want Ella’s story to unfold.
The ending is one that will undoubtedly divide readers as it’s the kind that you either love or hate. But when you take into account the influence of Cinderella, I loved how the final image left nothing more that needed to be said.
The Shadow In The Glass was a great surprise for me. I expected some dark magic and the odd consequence of wishes too grande, but I wasn’t expecting the harsh realities that actually lay before Ella. This is definitely a book that I will be thinking about for a while to come, and has proven to me that I need to be more open-minded about the genres that I typically read as I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did.
The Shadow In The Glass by J.J.A. Harwood
Release Date: 18th March 2021
Print Length: 416 pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy