Enchantée meets Downton Abbey in this atmospheric YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.
For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.
But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.
I first have to thank the publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers for providing me with an e-arc of Splinters of Scarlet in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book and the magic system the author created. One of the things that I found really interesting were the ways in which the author took an actual period in Denmark’s history, complete with actual historical characters such as Hans Christian Andersen and King Christian IX and used them to incorporate into the magical world she was building with her fictional characters. I especially enjoyed that not only were these real life people mentioned, but that they actually interacted with the main characters of the story and even helped to fuel the motivations and actions of the characters.
Most readers and fans of fictional worlds with a magical system will be familiar with the concept that “magic comes with a price”, something which holds true in this book as well. In Splinters of Scarlet, those who have magic and use it, do so knowing that the price they will pay is to have their veins slowly fill with the ice build up of the Firn until it finally kills them. The main character Marit, makes every attempt to use her magic, a type of thread magic that enables her to make beautiful clothing far beyond a simple seamstresses ability, as sparingly as possible so as not to succumb to the inevitable. Unfortunately though, Marit finds herself having to use her magic more and more in order to ensure that fellow orphan Eve, whom Marit views as a younger sister, remains safe within her new adoptive life.
Marit was an interesting and complex character who quickly lodged herself within my heart. I loved seeing Marit opening up and learning to trust other people as she got to know the other servants in Helene Vestergaard’s home. It was wonderful how with slowly allowing herself to give and receive trust and friendship that she was able to find a family like she’d never known before and the lengths to which they would all go to to save one another from something that went beyond any of their imaginings.
Although this story got off to a bit of a slow start for me, I found that things really started to pick up once Eve and Marit arrived at the Vestergaard house and Marit began to uncover the truth about what actually happened to her father all those years before in the Vestergaard mine. As Marit drew closer to the truth and the book drew closer to it’s chilling climax, I found myself unable to put the book down for even a moment. This book was so beautiful in it’s writing and descriptions that I was sad when the book came to an end and I had to leave this magical world.
The book releases this Tuesday, July 21st. Be sure to get a copy for yourself, links are included below.