by Astrid Yrigollen
Plot Summary:Claren Maidstone has been forced to flee her childhood home, following the death of her parents and a vicious attack from a man who intends to marry her. She assumes a new identity and finds employment as an assistant to the handsome, Fredrick Lowood. However, Fredrick's generosity isn't without a price and Claren soon finds herself forced into a strange friendship with his disfigured son.
Unaware of how Claren's past entwines with his own, Etrigan Lowood begins to yearn for her love. Unfortunately, the past is not far behind.
Is his love for Claren enough? Or will Etrigan remain alone with his black wings...
Review:An expansion on Beauty and the Beast, the author adds many layers to the tale by mixing genres, changing motivations, and adding more perilous situations for the heroine. Claren is on the run from her unwanted suitor, Kurten (a much nastier, and less good-looking version of Gaston). Her mysterious benefactor, Mr. Lowood, comes off as both sinister and kind at times - he is keeping secrets, but he is helping Claren when she most needs it. The mystery deepens with the introduction of disfigured Etrigan who grows from immaturity to understanding as he gets to know Claren. Their romance is sweet, but I didn't feel as invested in it, because of the conflicting appeal of Claren's other would-be suitors - Horace and Dekker - who never stood a chance, yet they were more fun and equally entranced by Claren. And their competitive friendship made me smile.
At times Etrigan was very possessive and Claren very willing to yield to weakness despite the assurance she is very strong-minded and that also made it difficult for me to root for their romance. Although they are an interesting in two lonely characters with tragic pasts. Another issue I had with the story was the random switching of character perspectives - it hurt the pace and was jarring sometimes, especially when information on character's back-story was thrown in unexpectedly. The story is generally well-written however, with an interesting dystopian, steampunk setting, and I found it a very absorbing read.
review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with Young Adult Novel Reader Book Tours