I loved The Invisible Library series – see my reviews of The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Secret Chapter, The Dark Archive, The Lost Plot and The Untold Story so was delighted to get hold of this arc.
BLURB: Revolution is a bloodthirsty business . . . especially when vampires are involved.
It is 1793 and the French Revolution is in full swing. Vampires—usually rich and aristocratic—have slaked the guillotine’s thirst in large numbers. The mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, and his League are heroically rescuing dozens of aristocrats from execution, both human and vampire. And soon they will have an ace up their (sleeve – sic) Eleanor Dalton.
Eleanor is working as a housemaid on the estate of a vampire Baroness. Her highest aspiration is to one day become a modiste. But when the Baroness hosts a mysterious noble and his wife, they tell Eleanor she is the spitting image of a French aristocrat, and they convince her to journey to France to aid them in a daring scheme. Soon, Eleanor finds herself in Paris, swept up in magic and intrigue—and chaos—beyond her wildest dreams. 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. . . .
REVIEW: This seemed a wonderful premise – a retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel story set around the French Revolution, with the addition of vampires into the mix. But I’ve read plenty of marvellous-sounding ideas for books that simply haven’t fulfilled their promise. So I was delighted when this one absolutely nailed it.
I liked Eleanor. Cogman writes intelligent, ambitious young women who have a sense of their own worth really well. While Eleanor doesn’t have the assurance of Irene – she knows she doesn’t want to be stuck in the kitchens all her life and is determined to make it to the post of a lady’s maid where her needleworking skills can come to the fore. So she avoids amorous young men – though it was something of a shock to discover that might not be sufficient to keep her from being married off, if her family and employer decide that’s the best course for her.
And then she crosses paths with the Blakeneys – and everything changes. While I’m aware the prose style isn’t to everyone’s taste and the pacing is initially a tad leisurely – this never bothered me. I read The Scarlet Pimpernel back when Noah was knee-high to a hen and also burned through a number of 19th century books as a young woman, so I felt very at home with Cogman’s writing style, which is a nod in that direction. But once in France and in the middle of a plan that always required a great deal of luck to achieve – this story really picked up such that I just kept turning the pages.
I loved the twists and turns. Poor Eleanor is subjected to all sorts of unexpected adventures she never signed up for and I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the vampires, which I thought was very well done. I read waaay into the night, unable to put this one down and was still buzzing when it finished – which is always a sign of a cracking read. I’m now very much looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction with a supernatural twist. Do be warned – a lot of books in this sub-genre heavily feature the romance and while there is a slow-burn hint of something here, this offering is far more about the adventure and action. I mention it not as a criticism, but so readers looking for something else aren’t disappointed. While I obtained an arc of Scarlet from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.