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The Shadow in the Glass

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Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s 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. Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s 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 to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.


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Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s 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. Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s 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 to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.

30 review for The Shadow in the Glass

  1. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    ‘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.’ In this dark retelling, Eleanor is our Cinderella. After the death of her parents she was cared for by Mrs Pembroke, who Eleanor remembers fondly. It’s been three years since Mrs Pembroke’s death and in that time Eleanor’s once soft hands have reddened and cracked, the result of her new role as one of Mr Pembroke’s housemaids. Eleanor’s life is a daily struggle; her bod ‘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.’ In this dark retelling, Eleanor is our Cinderella. After the death of her parents she was cared for by Mrs Pembroke, who Eleanor remembers fondly. It’s been three years since Mrs Pembroke’s death and in that time Eleanor’s once soft hands have reddened and cracked, the result of her new role as one of Mr Pembroke’s housemaids. Eleanor’s life is a daily struggle; her body aches from the work she does, she is never warm enough and she is always hungry. Then there is the constant threat of Mr Pembroke himself. Reading is Eleanor’s only escape. The dark spines of the books were rows of windows, waiting for the shutters to be pulled back. Eleanor imagines what she would wish for if she were granted some like the characters in books she’s read. Eleanor wishes that she could live a life without poverty, hunger and danger. Eleanor tried to be good, she tried to be kind, but she wanted so many things that she could feel them gnawing at her from the inside. Eleanor needs to be careful what she wishes for, though, because her fairy godmother isn’t the one who made you believe bibbidi-bobbidi-boo was a real spell. [image error] No, wishes have some serious consequences in this fairytale. Set in the nineteenth century, you know things are going to be pretty dire for women in general, but the teenagers who work at Granborough House also live with the constant threat of danger inside the house. I empathised with all of the housemaids but never connected with Eleanor. I didn’t like her, which made it difficult to become invested in the potential the wishes had to improve her circumstances. I found some parts of the book repetitive and it felt like a longer read than it actually was, predominantly because the settings and the majority of the women’s lives were quite bleak. I enjoyed anticipating how Eleanor’s wishes would be granted and seeing how she would react when she was given what she asked for, especially when expectation and reality didn’t line up. I am left with a few unanswered questions but none that will keep me up at night. I expect the ending may not be for everyone but I loved it. ‘If you want something, my dear, you must ask for it.’ Content warnings include (view spoiler)[abortion/miscarriage, physical abuse and the consistent threat of sexual assault, along with mention of previous instances (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and HarperVoyager, an imprint of HarperCollins UK, for granting my wish to read this book. I’m rounding up from 3.5 stars. Blog - https://schizanthusnerd.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    rose ✨

    “eleanor tried to be good, she tried to be kind, but she wanted so many things that she could feel them gnawing at her from the inside.” cinderella meets doctor faustus—or, you know, reads doctor faustus and accidentally summons a demon who offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul. the shadow in the glass is a dark, addictive reimagining of the cinderella story set in victorian england. it starts slowly and meanders at a few points in the first half, but the tension escalates beautiful “eleanor tried to be good, she tried to be kind, but she wanted so many things that she could feel them gnawing at her from the inside.” cinderella meets doctor faustus—or, you know, reads doctor faustus and accidentally summons a demon who offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul. the shadow in the glass is a dark, addictive reimagining of the cinderella story set in victorian england. it starts slowly and meanders at a few points in the first half, but the tension escalates beautifully as the story progresses. i really appreciated eleanor’s development; she grows from a naive girl to a delightfully morally grey character and i found her very compelling. the setting is gray and ominous and made eleanor’s powerlessness—as a woman, but specifically as a poor woman—particularly apparent. while the twist isn’t difficult to guess, it is particularly satisfying given its context, and i love that the line between reality and fantasy never quite crystallizes for us or for eleanor. i struggled to put this one down and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for dark fairytale retellings or gothic fantasy in general. it reminded me a little of a darker, more mature house of salt and sorrows , but this was such a unique, chilling take on a classic fairytale. thank you to edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. rating: 4/5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    For me, the ability to make a reader feel all the emotions felt by the protagonist - the hatred, the betrayal, the pain, the love - is a sign of a great writer. Harwood truly immerses the reader in this society where women truly are treated as disposable prey. The third-person narrative really helps you understand the thoughts within Ella's head, and I loved being in it. As a character, she's so well-written - the perfect example of a flawed teenager who wants nothing more than to escape the lif For me, the ability to make a reader feel all the emotions felt by the protagonist - the hatred, the betrayal, the pain, the love - is a sign of a great writer. Harwood truly immerses the reader in this society where women truly are treated as disposable prey. The third-person narrative really helps you understand the thoughts within Ella's head, and I loved being in it. As a character, she's so well-written - the perfect example of a flawed teenager who wants nothing more than to escape the life set out for her while also trying to navigate first loves and heartbreaks. Ella's interactions with characters leave nothing to be desired. In particular, I fell in love with the character of the black-eyed woman - a temptress, no doubt - it was hard to know whether you should love her or loathe her at times. I also adored Ella's relationship with Charles. He was the perfect love interest and, if he existed in real life, he would be the man of my dreams. The references to the source material - Cinderella - are subtle, but just enough to help you form a connection. I loved seeing how Ella's wishes gradually became darker and darker until suddenly we're not experiencing the Disney version of Cinderella, but the original version as it was intended to be experienced. I'm genuinely impressed with the subtleties here; Harwood forbids the source material from taking over her own narrative voice, instead coaxing it along in a bid to aid her in the formation of something entirely other, setting The Shadow in the Glass apart from the reams of Cinderella retellings throughout history. My issue with The Shadow in the Glass is less about the writing itself and more about the formatting and how it affected my personal reading experience. I truly don't have a large attention span and I am generally against stopping in the middle of a chapter. This book is separated into parts, some of which span over 100 pages. For a reader with a large attention span, this works perfectly. However, for readers like me whose interest is quickly piqued by alternate pursuits, the long chapters don't necessarily work. Therefore, there were moments while reading this where the writing was lost on me and felt rather tedious. Nonetheless, the action picks up in the second half and it truly grips you relentlessly. This book does not have a happy ending - I should say here that The Shadow in the Glass did not have the ending that I wanted, but it was definitely perfect for this book. The ending is open, left to interpretation, which works really well for a book of this calibre - it also really showcases the depths of Ella's impacts on peoples' lives, in particular for Charles. I do think, however, that there were some questions regarding Leah's and Aoife's aftermaths that I would have liked answered at this stage. Honestly, it's hard to fault The Shadow in the Glass. Though there were moments where my attention was pulled elsewhere, I found this on the whole to be a dark yet enjoyable journey upon which I would absolutely embark once more. Content warnings: alcoholism, poisoning, drug use, death of parents, miscarriage, abortion, sexual assault, murder, adultery. Thank you to J. J. A. Harwood, Harper Voyager UK and Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Moller

    This book is tense, gothic, and so, so creepy. The beginning takes its time warming up, but by the end its a breathless race (both literally and emotionally). Harwood does an amazing job of bringing Victorian London to vivid life through her gorgeous prose. A super riveting read that just got more and more tense as it went on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Available 3/18/2021 "Fetching the first lot of water was always the worst part of Eleanor's morning...the pump made a horrible sucking noise and spat water all over her skirts". When she was sent to the butcher for the master's mutton, "A hand reached for her purse-she slapped it away. Another hand reached for her bottom." The streets of Marylebone, in nineteenth century Victorian England, were teeming with fruit-sellers, crossing-sweepers, omnibuses and carriages. There was poverty, homelessness Available 3/18/2021 "Fetching the first lot of water was always the worst part of Eleanor's morning...the pump made a horrible sucking noise and spat water all over her skirts". When she was sent to the butcher for the master's mutton, "A hand reached for her purse-she slapped it away. Another hand reached for her bottom." The streets of Marylebone, in nineteenth century Victorian England, were teeming with fruit-sellers, crossing-sweepers, omnibuses and carriages. There was poverty, homelessness and hunger everywhere. Upon the death of her parents, Eleanor Rose Hartley became the ward of Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke of Granborough House. Mrs. Pembroke treated Eleanor like a daughter. "For a few shining years, she had been "Miss Eleanor", dressing in silks and satins...Eleanor was going to be a lady." Mrs. Pembroke filled Eleanor's head with the promise of a European tour once she was old enough to enter society. "It was hard to believe in fairy tales...[after Mrs. Pembroke died] Nothing felt magical in her little garret." "She'd been relegated from "Miss Eleanor" to plain old Ella...fourteen, and she'd watched her future crumble". "Five minutes in the library was all she needed...to bask in the smell of old books and let all the anger ebb away". She had to get out of Granborough House somehow, even if it was only in her head...Would this library be the only escape she ever had?" In the safety of the library, she discovered a small, unfamiliar black book. Lo and behold, a middle-aged woman, with vacant black, totally empty eyes, seemingly like holes through her face, was sitting across from Eleanor. "I can offer you...security, freedom...the chance to see the world. You'll be safe, warm and well fed". The black-eyed woman proposed a bargain. She would give Eleanor seven wishes but there would be a trade-off. Eleanor would be bartering away her soul. "It takes a good deal of magic to grant a wish, and magic has its price". "The Shadow in the Glass" by J.J.A. Harwood is a Cinderella-like Gothic fairytale fantasy. Eleanor is protective of fifteen year old Aoife. She worries because "Mr. Pembroke has made a name for himself below stairs as the worst lecher in London." She worries about Leah who was cast out, pregnant, penniless and without a job reference. Granborough House was dreadful, damp and dark. Eleanor dreamt of helping her friends. She was determined to regain her respectability, her place in society and travel the world. Once she realized the horror and sorrow created by her first wishes, she hoped to cancel the deal, however, her downfall had already been set in motion. Although she fiercely tried to advocate for her friends, she seemed relentless in her quest for money and power, no matter the cost. She tangled herself in a web of her own making. This debut novel of historical fiction/fantasy seemed, at times, repetitive and dragged a bit. A taut, more compact version would have increased this reader's enjoyment. That said, the last third of the book was atmospheric, suspenseful and barreled toward a satisfying, unexpected ending. Thank you Harper 360/HarperVoyager and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicole (Half Wild Books)

    I received a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review, thank you! The Shadow in the Glass takes the readers to and dark and dangerous London, where society is full of monsters. Ella has lost her status, and when a demon strikes a bargain with her, Ella seizes the opportunity to gain power. Hardwood explores a young woman’s descent into greed. At first, Ella wants to help those around her, but that need slowly catalyses into hunger. She wants an advantage; she wants her world back. But these I received a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review, thank you! The Shadow in the Glass takes the readers to and dark and dangerous London, where society is full of monsters. Ella has lost her status, and when a demon strikes a bargain with her, Ella seizes the opportunity to gain power. Hardwood explores a young woman’s descent into greed. At first, Ella wants to help those around her, but that need slowly catalyses into hunger. She wants an advantage; she wants her world back. But these consequences come at a price. I really enjoy a blend of fantasy and gothic, and so the setting worked really well. It felt very atmospheric. Unfortunately, I don’t think this book was for me. I really wanted to enjoy it, but I didn’t like the motivations behind the dark plot. I also found Ella a little frustrating, she kept making the same mistake over and over again. This does play into the theme of greed, but I just wish it was explored more. Despite this, the ending of this book was really good. It was dramatic and tense and I only wish I enjoyed the rest of the book as much!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Rouillard

    Cinderella has been retold in many formats over the years, but 'The Shadow in the Glass' is a particularly gothic and sinister version of the fairy tale. When the mistress of the house dies, Ella falls from her privileged position as ward to lowly housemaid, at the mercy of the lecherous widower, Mr Pembroke. Ella is desperate to do anything to change her circumstances—so when a dark sorceress offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul, she makes the deal. But each wish has a price and Ell Cinderella has been retold in many formats over the years, but 'The Shadow in the Glass' is a particularly gothic and sinister version of the fairy tale. When the mistress of the house dies, Ella falls from her privileged position as ward to lowly housemaid, at the mercy of the lecherous widower, Mr Pembroke. Ella is desperate to do anything to change her circumstances—so when a dark sorceress offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul, she makes the deal. But each wish has a price and Ella has to consider what she’s willing to do to get what she wants. This story is a slow burn. It is not overtly magical at the start, the fantastical elements creep in slowly and insidiously—you’re never quite sure where the boundary is between the psychological and the supernatural. In this way it did remind of the ambiguity of Laura Purcell’s novels. By the end I was thoroughly invested in Ella’s transgressions—a thrilling, monstrous tale of wish fulfilment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

    Today is my spot on the blogtour for ᴛʜᴇ 𝐒𝐇𝐀𝐃𝐎𝐖 ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ 𝐆𝐋𝐀𝐒𝐒 by JJA Harwood. Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for having me along for the tour of this fantastic fairytale retelling. - 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐩. 𝐄𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐫'𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐍𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐭. - I loved this retelling of the classic Cinderella fairytale. The protagonist Eleanor (Ella for short) is Today is my spot on the blogtour for ᴛʜᴇ 𝐒𝐇𝐀𝐃𝐎𝐖 ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ 𝐆𝐋𝐀𝐒𝐒 by JJA Harwood. Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for having me along for the tour of this fantastic fairytale retelling. - 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐩. 𝐄𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐫'𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐍𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐭. - I loved this retelling of the classic Cinderella fairytale. The protagonist Eleanor (Ella for short) is unhappy with her life as a maid, and doesn't seem to fit in. She is looking for ways to escape her life of servitude and poverty, and is presented with an opportunity to change her life with seven wishes, but is it worth the price she must pay? - 𝐅𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐝. 𝐅𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐞𝐛𝐛 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞. 𝐈𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐩𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐭, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐣𝐞𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬. - The feel of the story to me was reminiscent of Neil Gaiman, in the way it was such a dark twist on the classic tale - it made me think of Snow, Glass, Apples and The Sleeper and the Spindle. I love these modern fairytales that are definitely not for children; where fairy godmothers are not what we've been led to believe. - 𝐈𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤, 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤-𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐝. 𝐍𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐞, 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐬𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧, 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐫. 𝐄𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧, 𝐭𝐫𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐲. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤-𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬, 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐢𝐫. 𝐇𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭. - The gothic setting was so well constructed and depicted by Harwood. The old-fashioned period setting really added to the gothic feel of the story. Granborough House itself has enough presence and personality to be a character in its own right. Especially after Ella has left the house and can view it's true appearance the way outsiders do. - 𝐅𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐩𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞, 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐛𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐩. 𝐈𝐭 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐚𝐝𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐥, 𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰. 𝐅𝐨𝐠 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐬 ... 𝐈𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 ... 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐥𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬, 𝐧𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐆𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰 𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬. 𝐈𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞, 𝐬𝐨𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐩 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐦𝐞 - Ella's story is very compelling. Given the period setting, her gender does mean that limitations are imposed on her life. I found myself rooting for her, but also at times being frustrated with her choices and actions. There are definitely times where she could choose to be happy with what she has, but it seems like what she has is never enough for her. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫. 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐚𝐝𝐲, 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐞'𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐝 ... 𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬, 𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐣𝐞𝐰𝐞𝐥, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐬𝐚𝐰 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐯𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐫... - Ella questions her own morality and virtue throughout the story, especially as the tale progresses and she uses more and more wishes, knowing what the consequences will be. The reader is forced to question and confront their own principles, as they wonder whether they would take the deal, and whether they would make the same choices if they were in Ella's position. - '𝐒𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 ... 𝐈 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭'𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐫, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐲, 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞. 𝐒𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐞𝐥 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮, 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧'𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲, 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫? 𝐄𝐱𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐩𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬.' - It's ambiguous as to whether Ella's experiences with the black-eyed woman, and the wishes she makes, are real or imagined. She has black spots in her memory, both from when she was young and clearly suffered trauma, but also in the moments after she makes the wishes. No-one else can see the black eyed woman, and even Ella questions whether she is real at times. - 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐈 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞? 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞! 𝐖𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝 - 𝐋𝐨𝐫𝐝, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐥! - There were lots of nods to the classic Cinderella story, and to other classic fairytales, which add a fun element for the reader - from Ella's moonlight-coloured shoes, to her running from the ball at midnight, the variations on the story really added to the reimagining. - 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐬, 𝐚 𝐟𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐣𝐮𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐟𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐝, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐌𝐫𝐬 𝐏𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 '𝐑𝐚𝐩𝐮𝐧𝐳𝐞𝐥' 𝐚𝐧𝐝 '𝐒𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐲' 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐬𝐨𝐟𝐭, 𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞. - I loved The Shadow in the Glass and would highly recommend it. I'd also be very interested in reading more from JJA Harwood - especially if she writes any more modern twists on classic fairytales. - 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧, 𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐮𝐧. 𝐍𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eilidh

    ’Wishes were supposed to be nice things. They were granted by smiling fairy godmothers and left everyone living happily ever after. They couldn’t leave her like this – lost in horror and disgust that was deep enough to drown in.’ Eleanor “Ella” Rose Hartley was once a little girl going on a young lady of society. However, this all came crumbling down, when her charge Mrs Pembroke suddenly died. Now Ella is forced to work for the House in which she once held higher standing; working long and hard ’Wishes were supposed to be nice things. They were granted by smiling fairy godmothers and left everyone living happily ever after. They couldn’t leave her like this – lost in horror and disgust that was deep enough to drown in.’ Eleanor “Ella” Rose Hartley was once a little girl going on a young lady of society. However, this all came crumbling down, when her charge Mrs Pembroke suddenly died. Now Ella is forced to work for the House in which she once held higher standing; working long and hard days whilst freezing, starving and aching. But one night changes everything. A woman appears to Ella and offers her seven wishes that’ll enable her to change her life. The problem is, all magic comes with a price, and it’ll cost Ella’s soul. To describe The Shadow in the Glass as a dark retelling of Cinderella is an understatement. It’s a story brimming with cruelty, vengeance and desire. To liken it to Laura Purcell’s work is a good starting point as I imagine other Purcell fans will notice the similarities to The Corset. The Shadow in the Glass embodied such an ominous essence in a multitude of ways to easily describe it as harrowing. To put it bluntly, especially when Goodreads classifies this as YA, I felt this book’s nature was unnerving. There is physical abuse of the household maids, multiple references to past rape and potential future rape of maids, and also a graphic description of abortion and miscarriage. All of this left me feeling suffocated because of how gut churning and worried I was for the characters, and so, it certainly isn’t a light read. By the book’s end, it’s easy to understand Ella’s decisions and actions even if one does not agree with them. She envisioned a particular life for herself, one she feels was robbed from her, and from where the story picks up, Ella imagines bitterly what life would’ve - should’ve - been like. It’s this bitterness in her heart that underpins everything and prevents her from seeing herself as anything but prey and a victim. She was ambitious, conceited and devious, punishingly so, often making her a rather off putting protagonist. However, in the same vein, she’s good hearted, rounding out her more questionable traits. Because of this, I found her a strong founded and well developed morally grey character. I really enjoyed the novel’s predominant theme of power; through the power imbalance of employer and employee, societal social standing and also the magical elements of the power the wishes offered. The historical time period permitted such illustrious portrayals of Ella and her fellow maids being subject to the House’s hierarchy and the judgement and gossip of better off ladies in wider society. The power the wishes held over the whole story, and not just Ella’s options, provided such a foreboding feeling about how things would turn out. It was impossible not to worry that things wouldn’t spell well for Ella. However, it became hard to accept that Ella wouldn’t use her wishes when she faced particular challenges, especially when it was clear how conniving Ella could be yet acted holier than thou with respect to the wishes - this issue, I felt, was primarily because of the novel’s weakest link: leaden prose. It wasn’t merely descriptive, it was excessive at times and subsequently sluggish. The book really would have benefited from its length being refined to not feel so overloaded. That’s ultimately what’s knocking my rating from 4 stars to 3 stars to an otherwise enjoyable debut. This was a real pageturner for me - I’m talking laying awake at night itching to pick up my kindle and continue reading. I couldn’t get my mind off it. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish it. Other than some repetition and drawn out parts, this was an excellent debut. It’s not the first of its kind but it offers a grimly exhilarating spin on a classic fairytale and insight to the potential this author has going forward. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you love Laura Purcell. Thank you kindly to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood is a dark gothic retelling of Cinderella. After her parents died Eleanor was taken by Mrs Pembroke to live at Gainsborough House. They treated her like their own daughter. They also have a son called Charles. But when Mrs Pembroke dies, Eleanor’s life changes and is set to work as a maid under the lecherous eyes of her once stepfather Mr Pembroke. Who has a reputation as force himself on his pretty maids and dispose of them when they become with child and to The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood is a dark gothic retelling of Cinderella. After her parents died Eleanor was taken by Mrs Pembroke to live at Gainsborough House. They treated her like their own daughter. They also have a son called Charles. But when Mrs Pembroke dies, Eleanor’s life changes and is set to work as a maid under the lecherous eyes of her once stepfather Mr Pembroke. Who has a reputation as force himself on his pretty maids and dispose of them when they become with child and to be sent to work in the workhouse. Eleanor’s only respite when she steals herself to the library to read the books that take her away to different worlds, far away from Gainsborough house. She wants more for herself and she saved up her wages to escape and get a place of her own. But one day, she finds her room turned upside down and all her money gone. She is distraught until if by chance, she makes a deal with the devil. Who gives her seven wishes but after seventh wish her soul will be taken, But she promises herself she will not make her final wish. She hopes the other wishes will help her change her life for the better. Although the story was a bit low at first, The shadow in the Glass is a dark atmospheric retelling of Cinderella that I really enjoyed. This is a historical novel and a bit of magic thrown in. But it also showed what a different class woman where at that age and how hard they worked and how they had to ask permission for everything they did. This is classed as young adult, but I thought more adult story due to some of its content. 4 stars from me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yeganeh

    1.5 star Such a dissapointment for a cinderella retelling. I swear to god the female mc was stupid.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I give this book 2.5 stars. Once again the tagline "A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern." set it up for disappointment. I am a huge fan of Erin Morgenstern, and this book is just different than that. Much more Gothic, dark and destitute. Erin's work always has bright spots and light. A very dark retelling of Cinderella, Ella (Eleanor) after losing her mother is taken in by a wealthy family, but after the woman of the house dies I give this book 2.5 stars. Once again the tagline "A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern." set it up for disappointment. I am a huge fan of Erin Morgenstern, and this book is just different than that. Much more Gothic, dark and destitute. Erin's work always has bright spots and light. A very dark retelling of Cinderella, Ella (Eleanor) after losing her mother is taken in by a wealthy family, but after the woman of the house dies, Ella is forced into service. The book is a classic deal-with-the-devil, that you know won't end up well but you still hold onto the hope. Ella is 17-18 years old and the book and though her many many thoughts and considerations would belong to someone that age, it dragged on too much for me. One is responsible for their bad deeds, and most of the book she is trying to justify it. I believe the book is set somewhere around 1800, and the reality of life for a lot of people was told and explained very well ( I learned tons of new words), but so incredibly sad for a lot of people, especially for women. The book is well written and sucks you in to olden-days London, but for me the book would have been more powerful if more was edited out.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    An extremely dissatisfying book. A ridiculous bargain, an even more ridiculous love story. By the end of the story I wanted everyone to die including the protagonist and her love interest. This is supposed to be a dark, gothic Cinderella retelling. It is one, I suppose - a boring one! But I admit the twist was cool. Everyone blushes a bit too much in this book. The housemaids blush, the protagonist blushes, her lover blushes, the chair, table, windows....everything blushes! *I received an eARC in An extremely dissatisfying book. A ridiculous bargain, an even more ridiculous love story. By the end of the story I wanted everyone to die including the protagonist and her love interest. This is supposed to be a dark, gothic Cinderella retelling. It is one, I suppose - a boring one! But I admit the twist was cool. Everyone blushes a bit too much in this book. The housemaids blush, the protagonist blushes, her lover blushes, the chair, table, windows....everything blushes! *I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review from the publisher via netgalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

    What if you were granted 7 wishes to do as you please by a woman who is sort of like a godmother? You would probably be so excited and would want the best kinds of things, right? Well, this is what happens in this new take based on the classic Cinderella of a young woman who is granted 7 wonderful wishes but sometimes what she wishes for doesn't necessarily have the best outcome. Ella is a hardworking servant in Granborough House where she was once a ward of sorts to the Pembroke family after her What if you were granted 7 wishes to do as you please by a woman who is sort of like a godmother? You would probably be so excited and would want the best kinds of things, right? Well, this is what happens in this new take based on the classic Cinderella of a young woman who is granted 7 wonderful wishes but sometimes what she wishes for doesn't necessarily have the best outcome. Ella is a hardworking servant in Granborough House where she was once a ward of sorts to the Pembroke family after her parents died. Promised to be cared for, Ella grows up alongside the Pembroke's son Charles who she has always had a brotherly love for. But after the kind and loving Mrs. Pembroke dies, Ella is forced to become a lowly maid serving the house and family she was once part of. In her secret missions to the library in Granborough House where Ella finds refuge among the books and stories she loses herself in she encounters a mysterious woman who grants her 7 wishes to do as she pleases. Excited that she can change her life and of those she loves Ella begins wishing for good things to happen, but little does she realize at first that her wishes come with a steep price, a price that usually involves death. This was an original and engrossing read with gothic elements that I really enjoyed, it had it's share of surprises and twists and the ending was not what I was expecting. Thank you to JJA Harwood and Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Connor

    This is a genuinely unsettling book. I'm still thinking about it a few days after finishing it. I guess the fact that the protagonist is Ella, once a "daughter" of the house, now a housemaid, puts us in Cinderella territory. Ella is frightened, neglected, put upon, exploited - and then she meets a strange woman who offers to make all her wishes come true. It's too good to be true. Obviously. But the story that follows is dark and twisty and disturbing. It left me wondering about the nature of go This is a genuinely unsettling book. I'm still thinking about it a few days after finishing it. I guess the fact that the protagonist is Ella, once a "daughter" of the house, now a housemaid, puts us in Cinderella territory. Ella is frightened, neglected, put upon, exploited - and then she meets a strange woman who offers to make all her wishes come true. It's too good to be true. Obviously. But the story that follows is dark and twisty and disturbing. It left me wondering about the nature of good and evil, about Ella's reliability, and about the "truth" of what happened. Ella moves from being a sympathetic heroine to being someone whose veracity and motivation - the very nature of her soul- must be questioned. Harwood takes us subtly and cleverly along this journery. She also conjures up a world of dampness and hunger, where women in particular walk a fine line between respectability and survival, and being thrown out on the streets to starve. This London stinks and sticks to your skin. It's a very good book. Thank you, NetGalley, for letting me read this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Reyes

    Thanks to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book DNF at 28% Woa, talk about a misleading blurb... This book is so not what I expected it to be when I requested it. I am so sorry to give up on it because judging only by the 28% I have read the writing is quite good and Ella makes a great main character, but I thought this was going to be a fairytale with a twist, and instead I got a dark, gothic novel with no less than 5 trigger warnings so far, includi Thanks to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book DNF at 28% Woa, talk about a misleading blurb... This book is so not what I expected it to be when I requested it. I am so sorry to give up on it because judging only by the 28% I have read the writing is quite good and Ella makes a great main character, but I thought this was going to be a fairytale with a twist, and instead I got a dark, gothic novel with no less than 5 trigger warnings so far, including (view spoiler)[bereavement, child neglect, murder, rape and sex trafficking (hide spoiler)] . The oppressive atmosphere and basically everything about the story are sucking the life out of me, and although at some other point this might have been a book I would have liked, right now I don't need this extra anxiety. I don't think it would be fair to rate this book based on my experience, but I think a warning is very much needed for people who got here for the fairytale as I did.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Think I got a bit caught up in the retelling of Cinderella part as I tried to find answers to my questions as I went. Ultimately my main question, which was about the shoes, was answered at the end so at least I can sleep now. A dark tale where I was unsure if I was ever meant to like Eleanor or be upset about her mistakes. I was annoyed at her continued bad choice of wishes & a lot of her back story didn't seem to have answers when intriguing nuggets like her being mute at one point, or the scar Think I got a bit caught up in the retelling of Cinderella part as I tried to find answers to my questions as I went. Ultimately my main question, which was about the shoes, was answered at the end so at least I can sleep now. A dark tale where I was unsure if I was ever meant to like Eleanor or be upset about her mistakes. I was annoyed at her continued bad choice of wishes & a lot of her back story didn't seem to have answers when intriguing nuggets like her being mute at one point, or the scar on someone's neck. Why worried about the cemetery suddenly? Perhaps if I'd been less sure of a Cinderella connection I would have seen she was cursed from the beginning. Bit torn about my mixed feelings for it. Thank you Harper Voyager for my gifted proof copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed this book. Ella has fallen on hard times after loosing her parents, she was taken in by Mrs Pembroke and her husband, but then Mrs Pembroke passes away and Ella becomes a maid for the hard faced Mr Pembroke. She wishes for a better life.. she looses herself in books, sneaking into the library at night whilst everyone is sleeping. She then comes across a book she’s never seen before, and a shadow of a woman comes in view offering her seven wishes.. Ella thi Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed this book. Ella has fallen on hard times after loosing her parents, she was taken in by Mrs Pembroke and her husband, but then Mrs Pembroke passes away and Ella becomes a maid for the hard faced Mr Pembroke. She wishes for a better life.. she looses herself in books, sneaking into the library at night whilst everyone is sleeping. She then comes across a book she’s never seen before, and a shadow of a woman comes in view offering her seven wishes.. Ella thinks she is dreaming, so to test she wastes her first wish, which of course is granted. All she now needs to do is plan her wishes carefully and of course do not take her final wish as payment is then due of her soul. An amazingly written story with a twist of Cinderella

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This dark, chilling fairy tale is about a young servant called Ella who dreams of a better life. However, she's stuck in a poorly paid job with a cruel master, and it looks like she has no way out - until a mysterious woman appears to her one night and offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul. Ella is just desperate enough to agree, but of course she finds out that the wishes granted get her into more and more trouble. 'The Shadow in the Glass' is richly atmospheric story which brings the This dark, chilling fairy tale is about a young servant called Ella who dreams of a better life. However, she's stuck in a poorly paid job with a cruel master, and it looks like she has no way out - until a mysterious woman appears to her one night and offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul. Ella is just desperate enough to agree, but of course she finds out that the wishes granted get her into more and more trouble. 'The Shadow in the Glass' is richly atmospheric story which brings the smoky, grimy underbelly of Victorian London vividly to life - including the harsh realities often faced by women (particularly those who were poor or otherwise marginalised). Ella is a fascinating heroine. At first her courage, frustrations and ambitions make you fall in love with her, but as her circumstances get more desperate, I found myself genuinely horrified by the darker and darker places she is forced to go in order to survive. And the ending was so tense that I literally couldn't flip the pages fast enough, I was so desperate to find out what Ella's fate would be. This is perfect for people who love dark, creepy historical books like 'Mexican Gothic' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and 'The Silent Companions' by Laura Purcell.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This is a unique, twisted and gothic fairytale retelling i desperately needed in my life and i give it 3.5 stars. I devoured the entire thing in a day so massive thanks to NetGalley and HarperVoyager for granting my wish to allow me an early review copy. Plot summary: Ella has gone from lady in training to Maid within her household where the male owner is her lecherous stepfather. Her only salvation is burning candles and sneaking into the library to escape into the world of a book. One night her This is a unique, twisted and gothic fairytale retelling i desperately needed in my life and i give it 3.5 stars. I devoured the entire thing in a day so massive thanks to NetGalley and HarperVoyager for granting my wish to allow me an early review copy. Plot summary: Ella has gone from lady in training to Maid within her household where the male owner is her lecherous stepfather. Her only salvation is burning candles and sneaking into the library to escape into the world of a book. One night her wishes are answered and she is visited by a shadow of a woman who offers her 7 wishes- the exchange being her soul once all seven wishes are complete. However each and every wish will come with a price and Ella must decide if the price is worth paying. Review: Plot wise this book was intriguing. It is a fairytale retelling that was extremely unique and gothic that i was instantly drawn in in from the first page. There were some really good twists in this story that came together well for the ending, however a lot of the story as you follow it through you could easily have followed the line of thinking Ella was coming to. The writing style in this story was really enjoyable and something i really enjoyed. The pacing of this story is quite slow for me to start, but as the story picked up the pacing considerably improved towards the final pages. The ending was satisfying, however i felt it was slightly rushed but never the less left me satisfied. Character wise Ella was fantastic as the protagonist. She was developed beautifully and she was never potrayed as perfect- something i massively appreciate in female protagonists. All of the side characters had their moments to shine and they were developed as well as they could be based on the amount of time they were in the book. The world building was wonderful- detailed and worked perfectly for the story to be portrayed. Final Thoughts: A wonderful retelling that is definitely unique will be fantastic for anyone who is a fan of dark fairytale retellings.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood is an excellent novel that has it all: historical fiction, suspense, mystery, fantasy, fairy tale elements, and kept me enthralled throughout. I really, really enjoyed this story. At first one thinks it is purely a fantasy novel, but gorgeous cover aside, there is so much more. Yes there is an element of the fairy tale of Cinderella, but that is where the comparison stops. This has a much more real, dark, heavy, and Victorian element to it. The grit and grime The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood is an excellent novel that has it all: historical fiction, suspense, mystery, fantasy, fairy tale elements, and kept me enthralled throughout. I really, really enjoyed this story. At first one thinks it is purely a fantasy novel, but gorgeous cover aside, there is so much more. Yes there is an element of the fairy tale of Cinderella, but that is where the comparison stops. This has a much more real, dark, heavy, and Victorian element to it. The grit and grime of London really was a great backdrop for the feel of the book. At times it even sprouts a moment of gothic and eeriness to it that gave me chills. It slowly draws the reader in initially, but as the story heats up, so does the pace. I was on the edge of my seat, quickly turning pages to see how the story of Ella and the choices/decisions she had to make based on her circumstances and the wishes that were granted (or not). I enjoyed the twists and turns as well. I enjoyed Ella as the main character. She was like able, yet imperfect and flawed. I found myself in her corner from the very beginning. I really enjoyed the journey I was able to take with her. The supporting cast of characters really added to the novel as well. 5/5 stars For anyone that loves a good, dark, gothic, and historical novel that has a dash of fairy tale added. Thank you NG and HarperVoyager for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Harwood's chilling debut infuses the classic Cinderella story with a layered, sensual, and embittered flavour — and transforms it into a more humane story where passion, desperation, and desires run high and happily-ever-after is not without cost. The Shadow in the Glass promised a dark retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella that would appeal to fans of Erin Morgenstern, and to be frank these were the only reasons I had wanted to pick this book up. Not exactly the combination I had expect Harwood's chilling debut infuses the classic Cinderella story with a layered, sensual, and embittered flavour — and transforms it into a more humane story where passion, desperation, and desires run high and happily-ever-after is not without cost. The Shadow in the Glass promised a dark retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella that would appeal to fans of Erin Morgenstern, and to be frank these were the only reasons I had wanted to pick this book up. Not exactly the combination I had expected, but I saw two aspects I liked and I was game. Of course, then I had come in with such high expectations. Whether or not Harwood delivered, is another question. [C/W: maiming of a child, regular references to sexual abuse involving abusive power dynamics, in-depth description of miscarriage that very well may be magically-induced abortion] After the death of her stepmother, Ella has gone from lady in training to Maid within her household controlled by her lecherous stepfather. Her only salvation is burning candles and sneaking into the library to escape into the world of a book. One night, she is visited by a shadow of a black-eyed woman who offers her 7 wishes — the exchange being her soul once all seven wishes are complete. However, each and every wish will come with a price and Ella must decide if the price is worth paying. I am glad I discovered this book. I’m usually into dark books in general, but there’s just something I always appreciate with twisted retellings of classic fairy-tales. The Shadow in the Glass infuses the classic Cinderella story with a layered, sensual, and embittered flavour. Harwood spares no time for nice yet empty platitudes, preferring to jump into the dark and destitute reality of Victorian London instead. Gone is the often-preached message of “kindness and valor triumphs over all,” and what is left is a darker, more humane story of passion, desperation, desire, and power. Eleanor, or Ella, is such a riveting character to read. Her background, while reminiscent of the Cinderella archetype—a kind girl hurled into life of destitution and abuse—with all the expectations readers familiar with the classic tale might have for her, hints at a more twisted side that becomes more apparent as the book goes on. She does project the classic traits of being kind and caring to the people she loves, but yet in her lies a darkness buried deep within that begins to surface the moment she gets seven wishes (well, six that she seeks to use anyways) on her hands. Ella cares deeply for her friends, loves passionately, and wants desperately. Ella’s journey is a breathtaking race full to the brim with tension, passion, and desperation. What happens when her desires, both selfish and selfless, rapidly flourish to a rate she can’t control? Temptations are abound, of course. A combination of circumstances, desires, and blooming passion eventually drive Ella’s life to a series of decisions that come with their consequences — and this drives home the question what lengths would one go to for their happily-ever-after, and would that all be worth it? One of the many things Harwood does well in The Shadow in the Glass is how she engages with her influences in this story. The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus aptly becomes the catalyst to Ella gaining her Faustian bargain of seven wishes for her soul. This book is, to me, one of the more successful takes on the concept of Faustian bargains as it borrows many influences from the original work, yet comes together on its own. There are several moments throughout the book where the parallels between the two become apparent, but The Shadow in the Glass strips away the philosophical and religious grandeur from Dr. Faustus and taps into its more human potential. I found this to work incredibly well in Harwood’s favour as I was able to sympathise more with Ella and understand the temptations she fails to resist. Brought together with the dark and destitute reality Victorian London pose to women of lower social status, The Shadow in the Glass presents an exploration of darker Cinderella archetypes while giving its protagonist ample reason to desire a more active role in her wishes. The vibrant prose and sense of magical realism, while reminiscent of Erin Morgenstern’s works (in a good way), also make way for mysteries, speculations, and multiple readings into what truly happened in this scenario. Was there truly something supernatural involved? Was the truth a lot more mundane then we might think? We’ll never truly know (although if you ask me, I’m in team supernatural), and there’s just something alluring about it. The Shadow in the Glass had a lot going on in one package, and it all came together with a sense of a twisted beauty. I am honestly surprised at how much I ended up liking this book. Harwood pulled out all her stops for her debut delivering such a unique, dark, chilling, and deliciously sensual book; and she also manages to blend her source materials sophisticatedly to build a brilliant, vivid story of her own. Passion, desperation, and desire run high in The Shadow in the Glass, and with every tick on the clock the tension gradually ramps up until Harwood swings her last heart stopping blow. I will leave this review with this one question to keep in mind for future readers who plan to pick up this book: who, truly, is The Shadow in the Glass? The Shadow in the Glass is indeed a Cinderella retelling, but make no mistake: it’s creepy, it’s undeniably gothic; and it’s clear happily-ever-after is not without cost, at least not here. Dare to make a wish? The Shadow in the Glass is now available for pre-order, set for official release on 18 March 2021. You can also find my review here. Thank you HarperVoyager UK for giving me an advance review copy of The Shadow in the Glass! I am grateful to have been provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate A

    I feel I should start by noting that I have tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible but I have lots of opinions on it so just be warned that there may be a few things that slip through the cracks. As soon as I hear retelling I’m usually sold on a book and I have to admit that for the first part of this book I was, based on Cinderella but much darker and in a wonderfully gothic setting, the kind that I could feel leaping off the page, I was quickly and easily drawn into Ella’s story. I feel I should start by noting that I have tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible but I have lots of opinions on it so just be warned that there may be a few things that slip through the cracks. As soon as I hear retelling I’m usually sold on a book and I have to admit that for the first part of this book I was, based on Cinderella but much darker and in a wonderfully gothic setting, the kind that I could feel leaping off the page, I was quickly and easily drawn into Ella’s story. When almost all hope is lost for Ella suddenly she finds herself with seven wishes but nothing is ever that easy and the catch is a pretty big one and we soon see what the consequences of the wishes are. I was utterly drawn in until this point and then unfortunately in the middle section of the book, it was a bit like someone slammed on the brakes and everything that had made the story so mesmerising kind of dissipated. Obviously, when Ella discovers the consequences of the wishes she is going to question how she feels about it and whether she is at fault or whether it is justified in some way, and at first, it is interesting to see how her character handles these situations. However, it becomes a little repetitive, to the point where I started to wonder whether the story didn’t have enough words and some filler was needed to hit a word count, it seemed really unnecessary because it didn’t add anything to the story we already know that this is something Ella is struggling with, it needed an extra element to it to make it more relevant or to show evolution in the character, instead of it being the same concerns repeated again and again. I also felt like there was at times a bit too much description or extraneous detail at the expense of plot, it really stilted the flow of the book, something would be happening that was carrying the story forward and then it would hit a patch where I felt I could skip a few pages and not miss anything of importance. For me the focus felt like it was in the wrong place, this started off as a really exciting story and within its pages I feel like there were the paths that would have kept that excitement going but instead I was left a little disappointed. It was hinted that the book (which starts the process of the wishes) has been in the family for a while and that the wishes may even have had an effect on Ella in the past and instead of exploring this or getting any real answers towards it, there is a lot of time dedicated to searching for a character that doesn’t really have anything to add to the story. As I mentioned this is a very dark story, and I actually like a book that is a bit dark however the trouble with a book that delves into such dark territory is that it can become quite a drain, there needs to be a balance against the dark and repressive atmosphere, enough intrigue or redemption or some hope between characters to make me want to keep reading. Don’t get me wrong there were points that the balance was fine and I was intrigued to keep going but there were a few points that didn’t make it easy to continue, it felt like a slog to get through and there wasn’t that glimmer of hope to keep me going. I did wonder maybe if the structure of the book was a little bit of a hindrance, in this case, instead of chapters it is split into seven parts and whilst there are some pauses in the narrative, it maybe could have done with more obvious breaks and that might have helped with the pacing. My other issue (view spoiler)[was with some of the wishes, for a good portion of the story Ella is adamant that she won’t wish somebody dead, even though she is faced with a repugnant man who is making the lives of everyone around him a misery and it would solve many of her problems if he were to disappear, she will not do it. But then she gives in to one of his demands and essentially chooses to kill someone else in what is a pretty traumatic scene, I know that there are a lot of other concerns that probably went into the choice given the time period but still that active choice knowing what would happen then completely undermines the next section of the book and makes it quite tiresome. Yet again there is more deliberation on whether she is at fault, blah blah blah, and can she choose death for someone to make her life easier and all the rest of the repetitive back and forth…but in my opinion, she already has so this isn’t building any tension, it felt very hypocritical and definitely killed any lingering interest I had in Ella as a character. (hide spoiler)] I know I have been quite critical of the majority of the story but I was taken by surprise by the last part of it which brought back that exciting and captivating quality that was present in the first part of the book. Suddenly I couldn’t read fast enough and had no idea whether Ella would be able to trick her way into getting what she wanted, this growth from a character who to me seemed unredeemable, and was suddenly actively playing games and trying to come up on top was fabulous. I loved its ambiguity and that it left me with questions but not ones that I felt needed to be answered just ones to ponder over. The Shadow in the Glass has been a bit of a rollercoaster read for me, I felt like it had the potential to be so much more than it was and whilst there were parts that I felt I was forcing myself to read through, and characters that I wasn’t really enamoured with, I also enjoyed a lot of the story and can appreciate what the author was trying to create. Originally posted on everywhere and nowhere

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    I want to thank Edelweiss and Harper Collins for a chance at reading this... depressing? yes, depressing book. I'm going to spoiler cut this because I talk about some triggering stuff right out of the park (tw: rape, abortion/miscarriage, abuse): (view spoiler)[ - I disliked the main character, a lot. I found nothing sympathetic at all despite what the author expressed to us. Her mother worked for a woman and she and the woman became friends. Our main character was born, and when she was young her I want to thank Edelweiss and Harper Collins for a chance at reading this... depressing? yes, depressing book. I'm going to spoiler cut this because I talk about some triggering stuff right out of the park (tw: rape, abortion/miscarriage, abuse): (view spoiler)[ - I disliked the main character, a lot. I found nothing sympathetic at all despite what the author expressed to us. Her mother worked for a woman and she and the woman became friends. Our main character was born, and when she was young her mother died. Her mother's mistress raised her like a daughter, and then the she died. She was made into a servant in the house. She wants to live that life again. Mainly because her adoptive 'guardian' remarried? or was married? to a man who is disgusting and rapes his maids. That's right. The main character is even dumbfounded why this sweet woman was married to a man who is such a disgusting piece of shit, but it's never really explained. (Forced marriage? He went crazy after she died?) The book begins with us finding out about a rape of another maid, and she gets tossed out because she is about to have a kid. See, there are about four other girls (maids) in this house. All of them are being preyed upon by this man. Oh, he had children with this woman that passed (or I think he did), two daughters and a son. You never really meet the daughters, but you get told about and eventually meet the son (that becomes our love interest). Anyway. The point is that the girls are living in fear of this man raping them. Apparently it's a common knowledge in this town that's what he does, but the head of staff (who is a woman) is all okay with it. Mind you, these girls are being paid shit wages while being preyed upon... I know, a lot to take in right? Where is the magic bit of the story? Oh, yes, right. So, while being preyed upon one night she (our main character) locks herself in the library, sees a book sitting on the chair, and she reads a poem out-loud and this woman with no eyes promises her 7 wishes in exchange for her soul. The girl agrees to it, because she is like, I'm not going to use them all teehee, I want to keep my soul. Which then becomes this epic long chore of watching her trying to not wish for things and yet wish for them, but keep telling herself that she'll stop wishing only to break that and do it over, and over again. But every time when she uses a wish, the magic comes from someone dying. So she wishes for some shoes, some bird in the house dies in exchange for that wish. - The love interest is such a bawbag of a man. So, he returns with a fiancee. This fiancee is a total bitch and he gives our main lead over to her as a personal maid. His fiance hates our lead (because she is so familiar with her fiance) and is abusing her left and right, but he doesn't really do anything about it? So the girl has to wish to make something happen. Which leads to him breaking up with his fiance. ... Meanwhile, he starts developing really, really piss poor feelings for the main character. They eventually have sex, and she asks the guy if they'll run away and he is like, 'lol, what no, I am me and you are you?' and just kind of friend zones her and then she gets pregnant. (CUE A WILD wish where she literally has a miscarriage.) Then, he just... is so uncaring and or distant through the rest of the book. The worst love interest I've ever read in a book in a while. What you never find out or is just glossed over: - how did this book end up in the possession of the house? - who is this woman? is she the devil? apparently the girl is familiar with the story of Dr. Faustus, since this is what this retelling seems to be, thrown in with some shit Cinderella angle - so I don't understand why she doesn't put two and two together and just clamp her mouth shut and or run away - apparently one of the wishes she makes sics some detective on her and this guy is chasing the lead around because he thinks she has something to do with the mysterious deaths, but he won't do anything about the rapes... because he has no proof and or grounds to accuse the man? (what about the woman who he raped and is currently down the street in some slum house?) so why doesn't anybody in this town assist the maids? which the leads to... - why does the main character pretend to care about the maids/friends in the house, but is greedy and does jack for them? One of the girls gets so fed up with her piss poor handling of the situation and or lack of empathy that she just says, 'fuck it, I'll let the man rape me because you're clearly not helping'. (Oh, side note, the girl that tells the main character this is black... another dump on black females.) This book is a glorified mess. If someone who was reading it had some kind of trauma from being abused/raped, they're gonna find some issues with this and how poorly shit is handled and it might just trigger them all over again. There could have been a solid, gothic / smouldering tale, but you get a whole bunch of abuse, a man with the intelligence of a electric potato, and a heroine who you just want to use up her wishes all in one go. (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Queen Terrible Timy

    This review was originally posted on Queen's Book Asylum! Actual rating: 2.5* “Eleanor couldn’t understand. The black-eyed woman had been sent to help her, hadn’t she? She was supposed to smile, and be kind, and tend Eleanor’s glorious future with a gentle hand. Instead, she had watered Eleanor’s hopes with blood, and now they had grown into twisted, monstrous things. How could she have done something like this?” When I started reading The Shadow in the Glass, I had no expectations whatsoever. Whic This review was originally posted on Queen's Book Asylum! Actual rating: 2.5* “Eleanor couldn’t understand. The black-eyed woman had been sent to help her, hadn’t she? She was supposed to smile, and be kind, and tend Eleanor’s glorious future with a gentle hand. Instead, she had watered Eleanor’s hopes with blood, and now they had grown into twisted, monstrous things. How could she have done something like this?” When I started reading The Shadow in the Glass, I had no expectations whatsoever. Which is probably a good thing. JJA Harwood‘s debut novel is a darker, gothic retelling of Cinderella set in Victorian – I assume – London. Eleanor is forced to work as a maid in her guardian, Mr. Pembroke’s quite neglected and shabby house. She is kinda stuck between the two worlds, as she longs to be a lady as was promised when Mrs. Pembroke took her in, while she also treated as an outsider by the other maids – except her friend, Aoife. Mr. Pembroke’s tendency to abuse and mistreat the servants does not make life any easier for Eleanor. Until one night, instead of a faery godmother, she makes a deal with the devil herself. 7 wishes in exchange for her soul. It’s not until she makes two wishes that she realizes the price she has to make each time. The question is, will she pay the price to reach her dreams or will she save her soul? Placing this story in Victorian London was a rather clever idea, as the sooty, foggy London makes a perfect backdrop for the story unfolding before our eyes. And that’s probably the only aspect of the book I actually did enjoy. Then again, Harwood does not paint a lovely picture of the city we see through Eleanor’s eyes, who kinda looks at everything with disdain – well, everything that is below her assumed status, that is. I admit I’m a bit of a loss as to how I should feel towards Eleanor. On one hand, she is the poor girl, who lost her parents then the only person who supported her and was forced to work as a servant and trying to avoid becoming the prey of Mr. Pembroke’s desires. A girl who fights for her freedom and her place in life she longs for, trying to help her friends along the way. On the other, she looks down on everyone and uses them for her own purposes when that fits her. She is selfish and unlikeable and of course everyone else is to blame but her. Even when I was supposed to root for her to find happiness by the side of the man she loved, I just couldn’t make myself to do that wholeheartedly. Probably the only likable character in the book was Charles, Mr. Pembroke’s son, and even then, he was unable to go against his father openly. But bless him, at least he tried and really had everyone’s best interest at heart. A stark contrast to the alcoholic, abusive, later morphine addict father he loved despite his faults. Then again, not sure how much he knew about what was going on in the house. It takes a bit of time for the story to find its footing, and especially in the first half of the book I had issues with the repetitive writing. Since I’ve read an ARC I’m not sure how much will change in the final edition, obviously, but sometimes it felt like the writing didn’t flow as much as trodded along in the mud. But I was intrigued enough to read through to the end to see where the story was heading. Normally, I’m all about morally grey characters, where they have to make hard decisions then deal with the consequences, but it also helps if I can actually like them despite their faults. I could not like Eleanor. And while I understand why she was making the decisions she did, I also think she could have taken different ones. She had a choice. Though one interesting question is, does the fact that she acted under a supernatural influence, excuses her actions? That’s one the reader has to answer since the book does not give us a straight answer. Ultimately, The Shadow in the Glass is an interesting read, one I didn’t really like, but one that raises some questions. If you got 7 wishes to do as you please, and ones you have to pay a high price for, would you take them? And how would you use them? Answering violence with violence is the right way? Does the intention excuses the action taken? Does reaching your dreams worth risking everything? Is there only one answer to any given question? While I support the idea in here that one has to stand up to the person who abuses people around them, Eleanor’s idea of a solution – even if she refused to acknowledge to herself – was less than ideal. If you are looking for a faery tale retelling which is less glittery but considerably dark, then The Shadow in the Glass might be a good pick for you. But I warn you, it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted as it can be quite depressing at times. And though it wasn’t quite to my liking, I think JJA Harwood is someone we should pay attention to in the future. And a piece of advice: be careful what you wish for!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Young

    This review was posted at Young Creative Press if you like this review check out my other reviews at youngcreativepress.com *I was given an arc of The Shadow in the Glass in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Harper Collins and JJA Harwood* Rating: 3.5/5 CW: alcoholism, drug use, miscarriage, abortion, sexual assault, descriptions of violence, murder and death. Eleanor or as she is called by some Ella is a maid for the man she once called stepfather. After the death of her mother when she This review was posted at Young Creative Press if you like this review check out my other reviews at youngcreativepress.com *I was given an arc of The Shadow in the Glass in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Harper Collins and JJA Harwood* Rating: 3.5/5 CW: alcoholism, drug use, miscarriage, abortion, sexual assault, descriptions of violence, murder and death. Eleanor or as she is called by some Ella is a maid for the man she once called stepfather. After the death of her mother when she was a child, the wealthy Pembroke family took her in. During this time she was brought up to be a lady by Mrs Pembroke and forms a friendship with their son Charles. Unfortunately, three years before this story is set Mrs Pembroke died and Ella is now forced to earn her keep and the once-grand Granborough house is now in disrepair. Mr Pembroke is a lecherous man who takes advantage of the young women in his service and when Ella’s friend is dismissed due to her condition she wants to find a way to get herself and her friends out. After reading a strange book in the library of Granborough house Ella is visited by a mysterious black-eyed woman who makes her a deal. In exchange for her soul, she will grant her seven wishes. However, each wish comes with a price that Ella is not sure she is willing to pay. As you may be able to tell from the synopsis this book is a play on the Cinderella trope. It is not something that is massively evident when reading, just little references every now and then. This isn’t a bad thing though, I actually liked that even though it is based on that story the classic Cinderella plot never overshadowed what was going on in this story. This ‘retelling’ was a clever one with some great twists and shocking moments. I guessed quite early on what was actually happening with the black-eyed woman, but it did not hinder my reading experience. If anything I gained more enjoyment from waiting to see what could become of my discovery. I’m sitting very much in the middle with my thoughts on this book. Well maybe just slightly more on the liking it side hence my rating of 3.5 stars. It starts out very slow and at times I was not sure whether I wanted to continue. The Shadow in the Glass is not separated by chapters, but parts. This definitely hindered my reading experience. Not being able to see clearly when I could put the book down and take a break and seeing that each section was around or over an hour-long, I found it quite daunting at times. This may just be a feature of the arc copy so do correct me if I’m wrong. I’m definitely a fan of shorter chapters as it makes me feel like I am making progress. With the huge sections, it felt like it was taking a very long time to get to the next part and I would often lose focus. This wasn’t so bad once the story got going as every wish would pull you in further and the plot would get more exciting. However, it did take quite a while to get to this point. The overall plot was interesting and exciting and as I said above and once it really got going it was great. For the second half of the book I was hooked on the story, but it’s just a shame that it took so long to do so. The characters were likeable enough and Eleanor was quite interesting. Slowly over time, you can see a difference in her as she contemplates making a wish and wonders how the outcome would affect her. She was quite a complex character who at just seventeen had to make life-altering decisions. Although she could be seen as quite selfish in the end, she did always have her friends best interests at heart. Most of the things she wants in life are to better her own position in society, however, her main wish was to help the other young girls around her to stay safe. There is a romance sub-plot that is highly predictable, but not everything needs to be a deep-seated mystery or a shock. I liked the romance between the characters and thought they were very sweet together. I’m never once to post major spoilers and I definitely won’t here, this is more of a minor spoiler that does not give away any plot points for revelations. If you do not wish to read even a minor spoiler then skip the next paragraph. There was no way I would have guessed exactly how the book was going to end, but oh my was it lacklustre. It was such a non-ending. No explanation as to what has happened nor do you have any sort of conclusion. It just ended. Some people may really like this and honestly, it would work if this were going to be a series, but it’s not so I’m left feeling quite confused by what happened. Overall I really did enjoy the plot and I loved reading a chilling story set in a gothic Victorian London. The Shadow in the Glass was an inventive retelling that plays on the darkest parts of the Cinderella story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lottie (The Disney Bookworm)

    The Shadow in the Glass is possibly the darkest retelling I have read to date. It certainly earns it’s gothic depiction, that’s for sure! Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to review this advanced copy. Eleanor is a young girl who has lost both parents but is treated like a daughter by her mother’s friend and wealthy woman, Mrs Pembroke. However, upon Mrs Pembroke’s death, Eleanor is expected to work for her guardian Mr Pembroke, and slowly finds herself as El The Shadow in the Glass is possibly the darkest retelling I have read to date. It certainly earns it’s gothic depiction, that’s for sure! Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to review this advanced copy. Eleanor is a young girl who has lost both parents but is treated like a daughter by her mother’s friend and wealthy woman, Mrs Pembroke. However, upon Mrs Pembroke’s death, Eleanor is expected to work for her guardian Mr Pembroke, and slowly finds herself as Ella, a servant in his household. Nonetheless, Eleanor’s tragic circumstances cannot stop her from dreaming: finding her escape through books, Eleanor saves her meagre wages and plans to escape to a life of fine clothes and plentiful food, free from the threat of poverty or abuse. When a mysterious book and a paper cut present a black-eyed woman offering to grant Eleanor’s wishes, it seems for a moment that all her dreams have come true. However, all magic comes at a price and this woman is no fairy godmother! I did have to check what category this book will be marketed in as I felt the book description could have been trying to force this into the YA marketplace with the links to Cinderella. I am relieved to see that the publisher has placed this in the Adult category as I feel it is too dark to be considered otherwise. Also, as a mother of a 5-year-old Samuel, the carnage of the third wish may never actually leave me! For anyone wondering about triggers I should note that there are regular references to sexual abuse, death and graphic scenes of miscarriage. The Shadow in the Glass is a strange book for me if I am honest, in that I neither liked it nor disliked it. I never particularly warmed to the character of Eleanor: I felt empathy for her during the opening pages and I wished for her happiness when she found romance; I really wanted to like her and I did try. However, Eleanor has almost an entitled air about her and constantly flits between wanting money, dresses and rich food to wanting to help the poor and keep her friends safe. An element of this could be intentional by the author in order to represent Eleanor’s young age of seventeen but there just did not seem to be any consistency for me and I found myself feeling indifferent to her fate. Eleanor is also constantly justifying her actions to herself which I found frustrating. I understand that the hints of her trauma early in life and her behaviour hint at the darkness that already exists inside her and I do applaud this. I am certainly not suggesting that the character should appear as she does to Charles. However, I think, if the reader could be made to love this tormented soul early in the novel, we would be more invested in her fate and would potentially shout at the later pages in frustration at the choices she makes. The premise of the tale and the writing itself was very clever: Eleanor’s situation in life and a wish-granting woman appearing at midnight hinted at a Cinderella tale but nothing was forced down the reader’s throat. The sheer darkness of the content was also enough to make you forget about any link to a fairy tale until you reached the epilogue. The reader is also entirely dependent on Eleanor as their eyes and ears due to the use of the first person perspective. This really added to the mystery behind the story and it isn’t until perhaps the 5th wish that it really dawns on the reader what is happening around Eleanor. I also loved how the black-eyed woman steadily became less mother-like and more out of Eleanor’s control. It seamlessly hinted at Eleanor’s demise and loss of control of her own actions and thoughts. The Shadow in the Glass is undeniably gothic, surrounded by the smog and dangers of Victorian London. It is a book which I am glad I read but would not return to again. The unique plot and mystery entrenched in the writing is second to none and the epilogue is a thing of brilliance: reminding us that we were expecting a happily ever after. Eleanor’s life as a consequence of her actions and decisions is nothing short of a rollercoaster and JJA Harwood’s writing takes us along for the ride. In the end, Eleanor gets exactly what she wanted, riches, love and safety for her friends: but at what cost?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Véronique

    I hadn’t heard about The Shadow in the Glass until I saw someone post about the stunning Goldsboro edition of this book. Seeing as I am a sucker for pretty books, I simply had to have it and read it. Ofcourse at the time, the Goldsboro GSFF subscription was sold out and this book got simply pushed onto my never ending “Want to read”-shelf here on Goodreads. Realisticly, I don’t think I would’ve picked it up myself, but then came the email from Goldsboro saying that I was offered a GSFF spot for I hadn’t heard about The Shadow in the Glass until I saw someone post about the stunning Goldsboro edition of this book. Seeing as I am a sucker for pretty books, I simply had to have it and read it. Ofcourse at the time, the Goldsboro GSFF subscription was sold out and this book got simply pushed onto my never ending “Want to read”-shelf here on Goodreads. Realisticly, I don’t think I would’ve picked it up myself, but then came the email from Goldsboro saying that I was offered a GSFF spot for March, with The Shadow in the Glass as the first book. Honestly, did not see that coming! So the book arrived and after drooling over it for a few days, I started reading it. This first thing that I noticed is that the book dit not have chapters. It was divided in a few “parts” with roughly 30-50 pages in each part. I can’t say I was a fan of this, seeing as I prefer to read by chapter. This took something away from the reading experience, as I felt either “forced” to finish the entire part or had to stop halfway through a part. Both were not ideal. The story of the book was rather interesting. It’s about a woman who makes a deal with, what I assume to be, the devil and gets seven wishes in exchange for her soul, after the last wish is cast. Throughout the course of the book we see her make the wishes, but like they always say, be careful what you wish for, because each of her wishes come with a cost. Even when she thinks she’s being clever and thinks she can outsmart the devil, it bites her in the ass. I was curious to see which wishes Eleanor would cast and what the consequences would be. How they would alter Eleanors life. And I tried to predict the outcome of the wishes, but seeing as I am not a devil, I could not 😉 Unfortunately, I did not bond with Eleanor at all. She thinks very high and mighty about herself and she feels entitled to all the riches that were once promised to her as a little child. But as the people who made the promises died, so did the promises with them. However, still she feels entitled and she feels it’s unfair that now she has to work for it. She whines about it all the time, how unfair her life is. Maybe it is, but damn girl, you make life so hard for yourself by being SO defiant. Once she has her wishes, she overthinks them way too much. It’s clear from the outset that she cannot outsmart the devil, no matter how hard she tries. And she will be making that last wish and lose her soul, no matter how much she tries. I couldn’t feel any internal conflict Eleanor should have about these wishes, and I just felt like she was complaining, whining and taking everything she had for granted. It was never enough, she always want too much, and coming from a girl who otherwise would have nothing, it simply was annoying that she was never satisfied. I cannot say I cared for any of the other characters at all. I mean, I felt sorry for Charles to be hurt and deceived by Eleanor on varioud occasions. He did not deserve that. But then again, he himself seemed too foolish to see it and what even does that make him? I was rather intrigued by “the woman with the black eyes” (the devil), but unfortunately I didn’t really get to see any developments on her side. We still don’t know who she is, what she is, what she can and cannot do. We know she “grants” Eleanors wishes and she is wicked and clever. But other than being hinted that she is in fact the Devil, we don’t know nothing about her. I would’ve liked to know more about how she came to be. The writing style of this book was definitely not for me. It felt pompous eith long sentences, big words and simply not for me. Even though it was only 400 pages, it took me over a week to finish it. One time I even had a hard time keeping my eyes open. I think if this writing style had been a bit lighter, the characters more likeable or the story somewhat better expanded, I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more. Because the plot definitely has potential, I simply feel like the author didn’t use it all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Thanks to HarperCollins UK for a review copy. The Shadow in the Glass may be a new spin on a well known fairy tale but this is most definitely not a book for children. The basis for the story is Cinderella, here Eleanor (known as Ella) has found herself working as a housemaid in her guardian’s home after his wife, who took her in and treated her like a daughter, passes away. Ella’s life is undignified and the house in which she works and which once would have been her home, is decaying around her Thanks to HarperCollins UK for a review copy. The Shadow in the Glass may be a new spin on a well known fairy tale but this is most definitely not a book for children. The basis for the story is Cinderella, here Eleanor (known as Ella) has found herself working as a housemaid in her guardian’s home after his wife, who took her in and treated her like a daughter, passes away. Ella’s life is undignified and the house in which she works and which once would have been her home, is decaying around her as her guardian drinks his way through the remains of the family’s money. He also abuses and periodically rapes his staff who are unceremoniously dismissed when they inevitably become pregnant, to survive on the streets as best they can. Ella’s only salvation is to sneak into the library at night and escape into the stories held in its books. It is against this backdrop that the tragedy unfolds. One night, much to Ella’s surprise, a woman appears to her as she is reading and offers her seven wishes in exchange for her soul. Given that the novel Ella was reading at the time of this manifestation was Doctor Faustus it is a safe bet that this is not going to be a good deal – magic, after all, always has a price and Ella certainly did not read all the small print before signing up, in blood of course. The rest of the novel follows Ella as she tries to use her wishes to extract herself and her fellow maids out of the clutches of her evil guardian and set up a new life as the lady she always wanted to be. Needless to say things don’t always work out quite as she intended. I felt deeply sorry for Ella and her friends as I read this book. They were all in an awful situation which was not of their making and from which they had little chance of escape. Small wonder then that Ella was desperate enough to gamble her soul for a chance of happiness and love. The book mainly focuses on the exploitation of ‘the servant classes’ and the hypocrisy and downright snobbery of those born into money. Ella’s willingness to try any way out is heart breaking as is her concern for her fellow maids. Two of these are obviously engaged in an illicit relationship with each other and their obvious love for one another despite their circumstances shines through. This makes it all the more tragic when the evil Mr Pemberton sets his sights on one of them to be his latest conquest. I enjoyed the book both as an exciting story and as a way of shining a light on the suffering that went on to make the ‘right’ people be seen with other ‘right’ people wearing the ‘right’ clothes. Households were scrutinised in church to assess any changes on family fortunes or whether a master’s ongoing rapes of a servant mean that a dismissal is soon to be in the offing. Whilst I appreciate that this is a fictional portrayal of a very gothic environment much of it would be very close to the truth and I feel very fortunate not to have lived in that era. I felt as though there was a thread running through the story about Ella’s behaviour when she was a child which seemed to have no obvious resolution. Each time it was referred to I hoped that it would be linked more into the main plotline but this never happened. I wonder if it belonged to a subplot which was later excised or whether it was intended to seed some of the happenings in a future sequel. The end of the book was a little disappointing unless a sequel is planned. I don’t think that it is in any way a spoiler to say that the ending is not happy by any means but I was not sure that I altogether understood exactly what had happened, though perhaps the author intends to clarify that in a future novel. It is a book to read by the fire on cold, windy nights and a salutary tale – there is always a price.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rums The Reader

    *I was sent an ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review - a big thank you to Harper Voyager* The Shadow in the Glass is a dark and atmospheric Cinderella retelling with plenty of teeth. J.J.A. Harwood takes the bare bones of the original tale but spins it in her own unique way, adding a touch of the grit and grime of Victorian London and a Gothic feel which gives it a much more sinister air. I feel like many readers will be taken in by this novel which depicts the realitie *I was sent an ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review - a big thank you to Harper Voyager* The Shadow in the Glass is a dark and atmospheric Cinderella retelling with plenty of teeth. J.J.A. Harwood takes the bare bones of the original tale but spins it in her own unique way, adding a touch of the grit and grime of Victorian London and a Gothic feel which gives it a much more sinister air. I feel like many readers will be taken in by this novel which depicts the realities of life for women in this time period, the choices they must make and the consequences. All tied up with a sprinkle of magic and foreboding. I went in expecting something other than what this book was, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by what it actually turned out to be. If you could make sense of that confusing sentence then you deserve a medal! I knew this book would be dark, from the synopsis alone you can definitely determine that but Harwood doesn’t shy away from this and embraces it, making for such a chilling and suspenseful story. Like Ella, our heroine of sorts who gradually finds herself making grave choices and dealing with the fallout, as a reader I followed along, reading through my fingers – the tension is palpable and you just know what’s coming but are powerless to stop it. While this has elements of a dark fairytale of sorts, it can also be read as historical fiction in the way it portrays the Victorian time period. I think this would be a great ‘entry level’ into historical fiction for readers who are trying to dip their toe into the genre or readers who have some familiarity with it but are seeking a modern spin in some ways. Specifically Harwood depicts the life of women, especially those who are less privileged. Now I’m not going to sugarcoat it here, this novel is quite bleak in many ways; from the exploration of sexual assault, power imbalance and desperation many of the characters face. However, I feel like this realism added to the book and it sets up the overarching story of Ella seeking an escape and then the whole wish element really well. It’s understandable why she makes some of the choices she does, even if some of them aren’t exactly agreeable or morally sound. I really did feel for Ella and the other girls; Aoife, Leah and Daisy as they were forced to navigate their daily toils and labour as well as protecting themselves from the vile master of the house, Mr Pembroke who has a reprehensible reputation. I feel like many readers will feel the same sort of empathy and anger that this was so normalised at the time and while again, it doesn’t make everything Ella does okay – it adds nuance to the conversation at least. In such dire straits, I think anyone would be hard pressed not to make some wishes if a fairy godmother suddenly appeared, I think this element was well done and added so much gravity. Ella realises that not all is as it seems with the wishes and she faces a dilemma each time she indulges which leads to some pretty wild consequences… Overall, The Shadow in the Glass is a twisty, complex retelling of the classic tale, with small moments of whimsy and light which I would recommend to readers who enjoy retellings that are on the darker side.

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