Title: The Court of Miracles
Author: Kester Grant
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Source: e-ARC (Netgalley)
One Sentence Synopsis:
Nina is the best cat burglar in all of an alternate 1828 Paris who, to save her sisters, considers starting a war within the underworld criminal guilds.
This quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the final version
“Be useful, be smart, and stay one step ahead of everyone. Be brave even when you’re afraid. Remember that everyone is afraid.”
I want to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to Netgalley, Knopf Children’s, and the author for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Time for another segment of “Let’s Learn About Kerri!” Something you may not know about me is that I am a HUGE musical theater nerd. I have so many soundtracks on my iTunes, I will sing Broadway tunes at the drop of a hat, and I’ve been lucky enough to see several shows before… ya know… *waves at everything* One of my favorite musicals of all time is Les Misérables. I can sing that sucker all the way through from start to finish. One Day More makes my heart thrill every. single. time I listen to it. I cried when I saw the show and the film adaptation (the sing-y one with Hugh Jackman).
So when I saw that this was basically a Les Misérables retelling, I didn’t need to know anything else to immediately request it on Netgalley. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to get it, but ya girl got lucky on this one! Then everything started happening, I forgot about this gem waiting for me on my Kindle, and didn’t get around to picking this up until the very end of May. I was getting back into the swing of things and was hoping that this one would help keep that happy reading mood going.
I didn’t expect The Court of Miracles to deliver as hard as it did, but y’all! This book was INCREDIBLE!! We’re following a young girl named Eponine (!) Thénardier. ‘Nina’ to her acquaintances and ‘The Black Cat’ to everyone else, she is the best cat burglar that the Miracle Court has seen in ages, able to sneak into places that most wouldn’t dare to go near. She is thrown into the Guild of Thieves at a very young age, but she is a fighter who doesn’t acknowledge the word ‘defeat’. But the Black Cat has a soft spot that will cause her to push the Court to the brink of war: her adopted sister, Cosette (!!).
As much of a stan as I am for the Les Misérables musical, I was a tad unsure if I could truly enjoy a retelling. But this retelling should be a musical of it’s own! It was just so enthralling! As I began reading, I soon found myself lost in the streets of 1828 Paris and I didn’t want to leave. You become so wrapped up in the fast-paced story that you forget that you have real things to do! Like… ya know… eat. I needed to know what Nina was up to and what she was going to do next.
Speaking of Nina, this book managed to do something that the musical never could: make me like Eponine. Hear me out! I fell in love with the Original Broadway Cast recording of Les Misérables when I was but a young girl and did not care for the voice of the woman cast as Eponine. I found her whiny and obnoxious and, sadly, I let that color my feelings towards the character. Because I was, like, ten and kids are freakin’ harsh, y’all! So I’ve lived with this dislike of Eponine for years and didn’t think anything could possibly change it. The Court of Miracles has done the impossible. Nina is just so fierce! I loved her fight, her focus, and her brain. I couldn’t look away from the book because of how much (and how quickly) I was attached to Nina. I just want her to be happy, damnit!
With such a strong main character, it can be easy for all the other players in a book to become kind of washed out. This is, thankfully, not the case for this one! Cosette (aka Ettie) is a well fleshed-out character whom I came to adore, as well. Nina’s various potential suitors (we’ll talk about this later…) each have such unique personalities. And the other members of the Miracle Court are fascinating and colorful, which makes them stand out and on their own in the narrative.
And can we talk about the Miracle Court!! I LOVE IT! I love the Laws! I love the honor! I love everything, little thing about this strange mashup of nine underground criminal guilds. I was actually kind of shocked that I was able to keep them separated in my head, as well. I mean, with nine guilds with nine very specific purposes, it could have gotten jumbly and confusing, but thankfully that was not the case. The descriptions were just… *chef’s kiss* and even though I would 100% die, I want to visit the Court myself!
Let’s get back to those suitors, though. There was a love… square? going on, from what I could tell, and I wasn’t all that into it. Was it terribly done? Absolutely not! I thought the author did a fantastic job of weaving them and their separate attractions to Nina into the story. I’m just not a fan of romance subplots when there could be more stabbing going on. Especially when I went into the book not really expecting it. I expected some kind of romance because, well, Les Misérables. But it was just a bit much for me.
Montparnasse is the clear winner, though, like… duh.
Final thoughts: This is an absolute thrill of a book that will leave you breathless and aching for more. The plot keeps you on your toes from page one and doesn’t let go until you’ve read the last sentence. Though I felt like there were two too many potential love interests, the romance is well-weaved into the story and adds another layer that makes the story that much more pleasing. I think even if you aren’t a Les Mis stan, you’ll love this dark, twisty tale about a girl willing to do anything to save the people she loves. But if you do love Les Misérables, it takes this book to an entirely new level!