The Shadow in the Glass

The Shadow in the Glass is JJA Harwood’s new Cinderella retelling.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy. They may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:

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.

“It was hard to believe in fairy tales when you woke up to the smell of damp.”

This book started interestingly enough. It seemed like a classic Cinderella retelling with some aspects switched around for plot value. Ella lives with a terribly predatory man, and no longer wants to be a maid. All well and good. Does she see a demon? Witch? Lady? (we never find out) and is given the opportunity for 7 wishes in exchange for her soul. Ella, who has done nothing but complain and wish for better life without actively trying to get one, thinks: “Surely I will not use all these wishes!” Questionable, but okay. If you were in this situation, what would you wish for? Maybe wish that the man would no longer rape his maids, personally, that would be my choice…

Ella wishes for shoes. Solid start.

“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.”

Ella is frustrating. She claims to care about the maids but fails to show that care in any way. She is given the ability to wish for anything she wants and wastes the wishes. In at least two instances, Ella uses her wishes frivolously. I understand that if she resolved the entire plot with her wishes, we wouldn’t have a book. However, would that be such a shame? Ella doesn’t grow much at all and remained selfish and greedy.

“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.”

The ending was not satisfying in any way, shape, or form. The writing felt repetitive and bordered on tedious at times. The execution of this was not fantastic. Perhaps the book would be better if we had more questions answered or a different protagonist. I suppose at that point, though, I would be asking for a different book entirely.

‘If you want something, my dear, you must ask for it.’

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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