Book Tour Review: Beguiled by Cyla Panin

About the Book:

Title: Beguiled

Author: Cyla Panin

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: Aug. 23, 2022

Publisher: Amulet Books

Synopsis: A dark and enthralling story about a young woman who makes a deal with a spirit to try and gain her independence—and the twisted price she has to pay for it

Ella is a 17-year-old weaver whose entire livelihood depends on her loom. She dreams of opening her own shop, but when her father died in debtor’s prison, she had to support herself by taking whatever clients she could get. In order to buy her supplies she goes into debt of her own, and when her loom breaks, Ella realizes she needs more help than a repairperson can give her. She, like everyone, has heard about the old washerwoman spirit called the Bean-Nighe who will grant any one wish—for a price.
But Ella is desperate, so she asks the Bean-Nighe to fix her loom. And it works. The loom is fixed, and she’s creating beautiful pieces she could have never imagined before. All she has to do is feed the loom a drop of blood each time she weaves—a small price to pay for such magnificent silks. And when she brings two bolts to a rich client, she meets a mysterious young man named Callum and bargains for an invitation to his exclusive party. At that party, he’s so mesmerized by her talent, he offers Ella a place to live and patronage for her art. It seems like Ella’s fortune is finally turning for the better . . . until she begins to notice the loom taking more from her than she offered.
As she becomes entangled in the lives of the city’s rich, swept into Callum’s allure, and trapped by the Bean-Nighe’s magic, Ella must figure out a way to secure her future while she still has a future at all. 

Book Links:

My Review:

I’m so pleased to be on the book tour for Beguiled by Cyla Panin. I read and loved Stalking Shadows last year, so I was super excited to get a chance to read the author’s new book. Beguiled is an immersive YA fantasy that follows Ella, a weaver struggling to pay off her debt and make ends meet when her loom breaks. Since her loom is her livelihood and Ella’s only way of gaining security, independence, and getting out of debt from an underhanded and lecherous lender, Ella makes a bargain with a magical granter of wishes. However, Ella soon learns to be careful what she wishes for and who she makes deals with. The story reminds me a bit of The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs in that way. Your wishes might come true but not in the way you initially hoped, and sometimes those wishes can work to your detriment.

The world-building in the story is really well done, and I enjoyed the integration of Celtic folklore and legends. The Bean-Nighe is a major influence in the story, and I didn’t know much about the legend prior to reading this book. Ella travels a twisted and dark path as she makes a deal with the Bean-Nighe and promises to give a drop of blood every time she uses her loom. Elle learns a lot by making this deal with the Bean-Nighe and is pulled into a world of opulence, beauty, and mystery.

Ella lives a solitary and poverty-stricken life, especially since her father died. Riddled with debt with little hope of pulling herself out of the dire situation she is in, Ella longs for more. She wants her own shop, a successful business, and the financial independence and safety that come with it. Above all, Ella wants to be seen – to be recognized for her extraordinary skill but also valued as a person, and this has rarely happened in her life. It’s no surprise when she makes a deal with the Bean-Nighe to improve her situation. Ella is a layered character, determined and brave, scheming and lonely with a tragic backstory, and though I didn’t find her the most likable protagonist, I understood her desires and motivations and sympathized with her situation.

The story is filled with many morally grey characters, some who toe the line between good and evil and some who gleefully jump back and forth. They’re the kind of characters who keep the reader on their toes, as it’s never clear who can be trusted, who is scheming, and who has good intentions. Throughout the book, I wondered about Callum’s motivations, in particular. Was he good? Was he evil? What did he really want from Ella? I felt that way about several characters, and the enigma surrounding Callum and the others was one of the highlights of the story. The plot also touches upon thought-provoking themes of classism, manipulation, poverty, and more. I like that, though it seems like a relatively simple story, it has many layers to unravel.

Overall, this was a unique and intriguing YA fantasy, and I would recommend it to readers who like enchanting tales steeped in Celtic lore. Thanks so much to Amulet Books and TBR and Beyond Tours for gifting me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Lines:

Why take a bucket of water when I could have access to the source?

Fall didn’t care how much you trembled-it would blow as cold as it wanted.

The shine of a coin is sometimes more alluring than the prettiest length of cloth.

Even though I was like a thread trailing from an unhemmed edge, I was part of the fabric of the city.

I was more than a bolt of silk.

About the Author:

Cyla Panin is an MG, YA and Adult Author who prefers to look at the world through a dusting of magic.

After spending most of her childhood wanting to escape into the wonderful worlds her favourite authors created, she’s now using her own words to craft magical places. When not writing, Cyla can be found playing dinosaurs with her two young boys, watching swashbuckling and/or period TV shows with her husband, and, of course, reading.

Her YA debut, STALKING SHADOWS will be out with Amulet, Abrams Fall 2021. She is represented by Chloe Seager of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV, and Film Agency.

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