Title: The Court of Miracles
Author: Kester Grant
Series: A Court of Miracles (Book 1)
Page Length: 464
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Knopf Children’s
Synopsis: Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
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.
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Les Miserables has a special place in my heart. I mean, I named my blog after my favorite song from the musical. So, when I saw The Court of Miracles and read that it was inspired by Les Mis and included some of the characters from my beloved book, I jumped at the chance to read it. Happily, though the story is nothing like Les Mis, it is an interesting young adult novel.
The Court of Miracles takes characters and situations from Les Mis, changes and enhances some of their strongest traits and puts them into a post-revolutionary France that is much different from the country we know. I loved how the author put a unique spin on well-known characters like Cosette, Eponine, Gavroche, Javert, Enjolras, Thernardier, and, of course, Jean Valjean and incorporated them into a fantastical plot that still pays homage to the original story.
The world is fascinating and detailed, offering an alternate society that is split between the aristocracy and The Miracle Court, which is broken up into numerous unsavory guilds. The politics and harsh laws of these gritty, menacing, and often feuding guilds are intricately detailed and juxtapose the luxurious frivolity of the wealthy. Nina (Eponine), the protagonist, is part of the Guild of Thieves and is desperately searching for a guild to protect her young step-sister Ettie (Cosette) before The Tiger gets his claws into her like he did Nina’s older sister.
I liked Nina’s character arc and growth throughout the story. She is complex, with strengths and faults that make her a realistic and interesting protagonist, even though she spends much of her time trying to undo her own mistakes. Under the tutelage of her abusive father, she learned how to be a thief at an early age, and her stealth, intellect, and cunning help her when she is most in need. Though I didn’t connect with her character as much as I’d hoped, she remains dynamic, complex, and unpredictable.
Though I loved the universal themes presented throughout the book, especially themes of family loyalty, independence, and doing whatever it takes to protect those you love, the plot felt a bit jumpy and jarring at times with jolting time-jumps and transitions. However, the story is interesting enough that I could overlook the sometimes awkward pacing.
This is a unique novel with a ton of action and immense world-building. I think it is difficult to take a favorite and well-known story and create a unique and intriguing twist, but Kester Grant does it well in The Court of Miracles. Thanks so much to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
- “Sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.”
Readers who enjoy young adult fiction with a strong female protagonist will enjoy this story. I also think readers who know the Les Miserables story will enjoy the many references in this book.