Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman – ARC Review!

Revolution’s a bloodthirsty business . . . Scarlet is a thrilling reinvention of the tale of The Scarlet Pimpernel with the addition of magic and even more mayhem.Revolutionary France is no place to be, especially for aristocrat vampires facing the guillotine. But the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel are determined to rescue them. And they have an ace up their Eleanor, a lowly maid from an English estate with a striking resemblance to French royalty.For Eleanor, the League and their legendary deeds are little more than rumour – until she’s drawn into their most dangerous plot yet. The mission? Travel to France in disguise, impersonate Queen Marie Antoinette and rescue the royal family. If they succeed, it’ll be the heist of the century.But there’s more to fear than ardent Revolutionaries. For Eleanor stumbles across a centuries-old war between vampires and their fiercest enemy. And they’re out for blood . . .

Scarlet was a lighthearted romp style fantasy filled with revolutionaries, mayhem and magic. Eleanor is fairly happy with her life as a servant in the household of Lady Sophie, even if she does serve a Vampire. But one day her world is turned upside down, sent away by Lady Sophie, Eleanor enters a world where she is needed, not for her skills as a servant but for who she looks like. It seems that Eleanor has a likeness for Marie Antoinette and she is quickly drawn into a plan to rescue Marie and her children from their prison in Paris. But there is more to fear out there than revolutionaries, and Eleanor quickly finds herself drawn into a centuries old battle between Vampires and their fiercest enemy yet.

Eleanor was a great character. She’s a servant and because of that isn’t a girl who is prone to flights of fancy, she’s streetwise, capable of looking after herself in a fight and someone who, when asked to risk her own neck to save someones she’s never met, hardly hesitates despite the danger. She does start a little naive, but as the story progresses she she has some serious emotional growth and I enjoyed seeing her progression from wide eyed girl wanting to save the world, to a slightly more jaded one who realises that to get anywhere in this world she has to play the game. Alongside Eleanor the story mainly focuses on the other members of The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, namely their leader Sir Percy, the person who first notices Eleanor likeness to Marie Antoinette and Charles, the young Lord who is tasked with teaching Eleanor the history she will need to survive her time in Paris. The characters were fun, but a little lacklustre and they came across as almost caricature like and read like stereotypes of English gentlemen.

I think one of my favourite parts of this book was Eleanor constantly questioning the Leagues decision to save the royalty of France. Coming from a position of servitude, she can see the revolutionaries point of view, maybe she wouldn’t go as far as murder, but she can certainly envision a world where titles mean little and everyone is seen as an equal. She is constantly showing them that their viewpoint isn’t necessarily correct but, being nobles they tend to ignore her, and I did get a little annoyed at how often Eleanor’s opinion on the matter changed. Cogman uses Eleanor, as well as the addition of Vampires to our historical world, to add in social commentary around the aristocracy and servant’s and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Eleanor questioning the decisions made by both sides, and coming to realise that she doesn’t in fact live in a fair world.

I did feel like the start of the story dragged a little, we spend a long time wondering what exactly Eleanor is going to be asked to do, but once she gets in with the League the story moves at an impressive pace and I found myself flying through the pages. Cogman’s writing style had a levity and English style wit to it that lent itself to a faster and more entertaining reading experiences, whilst still managing to add tension and some terror to the story when it was needed. There are a few well placed plot twits and, although the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ part of this story is wrapped up, Cogman still leaves us with plenty of unanswered questions that ensure I will be picking up the next book in the series.

If you’re looking for a little light fantasy with low stakes, a fun and feisty heroine and revolutionaries then look no further. Eleanor’s back and forth on whether she agreed with what the league was going did annoy me a little, but as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will definitely be picking up the next book.

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