My friend Anisha had this ARC and she kindly let me borrow it to read and I’m so glad she let me borrow it as I absolutely loved it!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
This book was dark and brutal with characters who were ruthless because that was the only way to survive and showed the stark contrast between the wealthy and poor. I loved the main character, Nina, so much. She was so complex and interesting and I loved seeing how much she grew and changed because of the circumstances she was put in.
She lived in a world where having people you loved in your life made you weak as they could be used against you yet she still loved fiercely. She takes Ettie in and becomes an older sister for her and her fierce protectiveness for Ettie drives her to do whatever it takes to protect her, which makes her become more and more ruthless but she is smart and patient too which makes her even more dangerous to her enemies. Yet they underestimate her time and time again because she is nothing but a young thief to them and they are some of the most powerful people. I loved seeing her plan heists which would be impossible for anyone else, showing how smart, inventive and creative she is.
Her relationship with Ettie was my favourite thing in this book, especially as it contrasted so differently from the brutal world they lived in. Ettie was so sweet and even I felt protective over her, she would tease Nina over boys, was sassy and loved listening to stories and was such a little chatterbox that I completely fell in love with her.
This book deals with some really dark and difficult topics including drugging, buying and trafficking women. Which was quite difficult to read at times and to see the state of the women especially as we see it through Nina’s eyes. She lost her older sister to that so her determination to save Ettie is fuelled by her not being able to save Azelma.
The world building was incredible especially as through Nina we see the poorest parts of Paris and the richest and we also see the underground where all those who aren’t accepted because they are different in some way live. We see how the poor are dying from starvation while the wealthy live so lavishly that they throw food away. We see how the powerful and wealthy keep the poor in a vicious circle of starvation and death to control population and how that results in a people deciding to rise up against them.
The cast of characters were sp great too and their interactions with Nina made the story so interesting and I really hope we get to see more of them in the next book as I would love to learn more about them. I loved how the court was set up and how the lords protected their own but they also should have done more to protect the women that the tiger drugs and traffics. It was interesting to see their justifications and eventually their realisation that they should have done something.
This book was such a great read. I was completely hooked and the second half especially kept me on the edge of my seat. I felt so stressed on Nina’s behalf because I just felt so strongly for Ettie that she needed to be protected at all costs. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book especially with that ending!