Benjamin Grimm knows the theater is much like real life. In 1876 Philadelphia, people play their parts, hiding behind the illusion of their lives, and never revealing their secrets.
When he reunites with his childhood friend Eleanor Banneker, he is delighted. His delight turns to dismay when he discovers she has been under a spell for the past 7 years, being forced to live as a servant in her own home, and he realizes how sinister some secrets can be. She asks for his help, and he can’t refuse. Even if he doesn’t believe in ‘real’ magic, he can’t abandon her.
Ellie has spent the long years since her mother’s death under the watchful eye and unforgiving eye of her stepmother. Bewitched and hidden in plain sight, it seems no one can help Ellie escape. Not even her own father, who is under a spell of his own. When she sees Ben one evening, it seems he is immune to the magic that binds her, and her hope is rekindled along with her friendship.
But time is running short. If they do not find a way to break the spell before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then both Ellie and her father will be bound forever.
Bubby: I keep hearing people say that this book is a rework of the classic Cinderella story and I just don’t agree. I mean, it has elements of the fairy tale (Evil stepmother, check! Girl forced to be a servant, check!) but it’s so much more. There’s only one step sister and she’s far from evil or ugly and the fairy godmother – well, she’s a multi-layered character, to say the least. I’d like to talk more about her but you know. Spoilers….
Sissy: I don’t know what was in your dinner last night, but A Curse of Ash and Iron most certainly IS a Cinderella retelling. Maybe you didn’t want it to be a Cinderella retelling so badly that you shoved all the evidence down into your subconscious and the truth can only be retrieved into your brain through a session of hypnosis.
Bubby: Nope. You’re wrong.
Sissy: Your favorite phrase has reared its ugly head once more. The key here, Bubby, is the word you used: rework. The reworking is done so well, i.e. the addition of an extra love interest, the setting, etc. that those unfamiliar with classic fairy tales would simply find it to be a lovely, engaging novel. There are also critics who say that it is not a steampunk revision of Cinderella. They, too, are so wrong. It’s oozing with steampunk and I love the added dimension that gave to the story.
Bubby: I have to agree with you there, Sissy. As much as it hurts me… There is just the right amount of steam engines, automatons, clever clockwork devices and other perfectly steampunky elements to just add some spice and flavor to the story. And how nice is it to have a fairy tale set in the good ol’ US of A for a change? I think authors forget sometimes that there were plenty of large, flourishing cities right here in the Victorian Era – no need to set everything in London.
Sissy: I wholly enjoyed the delightful bits of actual history throughout the story,
like the Philadelphia World Expo, the invention of the Corliss steam engine, the introduction of Hires Rootbeer, among many others. It gave the story added depth and interest for me. The step sister Rebecca was a refreshingly complex character. The magic in A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine Norris was different and unexpected. After wading through a whole slew of subpar novels lately, this book was surprising and completely delightful, much like Bubby when she brings me a cake out of the blue! (Hint, hint)
Bubby: Aren’t you on a diet? A no-eating-sweets-diet? I will make you a sugar free, fat free, whole wheat, carob cake. Delicious! (And by the way, I loved everything about A Curse of Ash and Iron. Christine Norris has now become one of my favorite authors.)
Sissy: I currently am on a diet of REAL CAKE and fabulous reads by Christine Norris. Now if you, Bubby, and said author would please deliver….
Click HERE to buy A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine Norris