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.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review and can confirm all opinions are my own.
This book was a buddy read with Susan over at Novel Lives, and we had both read some mixed reviews so were wary about picking it up. Luckily we both adored it and I think I speak for both of us when I say we are excited to see what book two has in store. With this being our first buddy read we were the blind leading the blind, so we decided to each review the book & came up with some questions we should both answer at the end. You can find Susan’s, im sure, awesome review & her answers to the questions here!
“Sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.”
Court of Miracles pretty much hits the ground running, part 1 of the book is only around 16% and yet SO much happens! When we first meet Nina she is living in her fathers Tavern with her sister Azelma, a sister who usually loving has all of a sudden distanced herself. We find out the reason for this and what happens sets into motion a chain of events that no one could predict. Nina is whisked away to the underworld of Paris and swears herself to the Lord of Thieves becoming his Black Cat. Her journey takes her to the world of revolutionaries, day-walkers, people who a generally unaware of the criminal underground and who the guilds have little do do with; and the Palace to the side of the Dauphin himself. She makes herself invaluable to those around her racking in debts along the way, so when the time comes her wishes might just be granted, and her one chance to rescue her sister will depend on those debts being called in.
“Escape my Lord? I’m the Cat of the Thieves Guild.’ I smile in the darkness. ‘I’m here to steal you.’
Like I said above the book certainly starts with a bang and what follows can only be described as a big ass fire work display. A lot happens over the course of this book and though it is massively character driven the author still manages to put together a plot that will keep you hooked to the page. She gives you the revolutionary Paris that fans of Les Miserable will know and love, but adds to it an underground filled with guilds for thieves, beggars, assassins, mercenaries, smugglers, prostitutes, opium dealers and men of letters. I really enjoyed the parts of the book where we got a deeper insight into the guild, and I thought the author balanced the plot and the history of her world beautifully. We get little insights into how the court was started and how the current Lords and Lady’s came to be in power, and at the same time the author manages to foreshadow future events and the amount of times I found myself turning back pages, wondering how I hadn’t seen certain plot points coming is innumerable. Les Mis fans will appreciate the little Easter eggs the author plants with well known characters and plot lines but she puts her own twist on it making it less on the nose than some would think.
“I’m no woman, no girl. I’ve no blood father or home or any of the false cards this life dealt me. I chose who I am; I’m the Black Cat. A daughter of this city. A Child of Tomasis, Lord of the thieves guild. No one can take anything else from me because the Tiger already took it. And I’m going to get it back.”
The characters make the book. It might only be told from Nina’s perspective but through her time with the guilds, revolutionaries and Royalty we get introduced to a whole host of side characters that the author completely brings to life. It is rare for a book to contain so many pivotal characters without loosing any of their essence but, though I do love Nina, my favourites were some of the side characters that we get to interact with through her eyes. Nina was brilliantly written. She oozes a kind of honour and strength that unknowingly attracts people to her. She racks in debt after debt by simply doing the right thing, even if the reasoning behind it isn’t always as faultless. Her only aim in life is to bring her sister safely home and she will do literally anything to achieve that. The other what I would class as ‘main character’ was Ettie. She was lovable and slightly naive and my only chagrin is that we don’t really get to fully appreciate her character growth as so much of it happens off page. The author kind of forgoes world building to give her characters the page time they deserve and trust me… you will fall in love with them all.
” You know we can’t survive this Ettie.’ I say softly. ‘Then we die together.’ She replies shaking out her curls defiantly.’ I’d rather live one glorious night hunting by your side, Nina Thenadier, than a hundred lifetimes without you.”
Relationships play a huge part in this book. Whether they are familial love, friendships, unsure alliances or romantic. The main relationship we get an insight to is that of Nina and Ettie. Nina would do anything to protect sweet and innocent Ettie after she catches the Eye of the Tiger and their sibling style relationship was a pleasure to follow throughout the book. Nina also makes some truly bizarre friends and unlikely alliances throughout the book, some of which had me laughing out loud for their absurdity. Romance wise this book contained very little of it, despite Ettie wanting to set Nina up with any boy who looks at her. There are three boys who the author eludes could be future romantic partners, and I know who my favourite is, but Nina has bigger things on her plate and I liked how the author kept her away from being the simpering girl in love with every boy in her life.
“I’ve never been able to fight your battles. I’ve not been able to lift my hand to protect you. I cannot risk dragging my guild into this war.’ His eyes are burning with emotion. ‘But if he kills you, I’ll take his head from his body and i’ll sit it on a pike in the middle of the Lords’ table in the Miracle Court and none will ever take it down. There it will rot, the worms will eat it to bone, and all who see it will remember you.’ His voice breaks.’ Even if Corday asks my life of me in return, I’ll do it I swear.”
The plot twists in the book made me dizzy, honestly so many times I thought I knew where the story was going and then bam! Plot twist. In most cases the author places hints for those savvy enough to notice them, but they completely took me by surprise. I’ve already mentioned that the plot is fast paced, and because of how much happens it is hard to talk about without giving away any major spoilers. I would say that if I hadn’t already known this book was part one in a series I wouldn’t have guessed it from the ending. And what an ending it was, I was glued to the pages and flew through the last 30% or so. There were some plot points left open but it was a little too neatly tied in a bow for me to get a good idea of where book two will be going. I would love for the second book to be multi perspective, simply because of all the amazing characters we get introduced too and will eagerly be awaiting its arrival.
We’ve set ourselves 5 questions to answer about the book & would love it if you would share your own answers if you’ve already read the book and , if not, after you have read it!
Which guild would you like to be a part of?
I think I would be a part of the Guild of Thieves, Nina’s own guild. Not sure I have the stomach to be an assassin/mercenary and I’m quite small so would easily fit into small spaces!
Which character do you most relate too?
Oooh! I think it would be Ettie, mainly because I would also be useless at most criminal style things, like to be pampered and would also mercilessly tease my sisters about boys.
Pick your own Avengers style squad from the Guilds and Day walkers.
Ok so Nina (Theives), Montparnasse ( Assassins), Gavroche (Ghosts), Le Maire ( Letters) and St Juste (Day-Walkers.) I won’t tell you why because that would bring about a whole host of spoilers but please take part in this once you have read the book!
Favourite & least favourite character.
Least Favourite: Thernadier.
*Update* Yes Susan just reminded me that I only answerd 4/5 questions but im going to blame that on writing my review late last night!
If you Liked… Then you will like Court of Miracles:
Hmmm I’m going to have to steal one of Susan’s and pick Gilded Wolves & Dangerous Remedy both for their heist style story lines, character strength & both set in France & finally Scavenge the Stars because if you liked Amaya I think you will love Nina!
I thoroughly enjoyed this buddy read and found talking through the book as we read made my review SO much easier to write!