Monday, March 27, 2017

ARC Review: The Black Lily by Juliette Cross

Series:     Tales of the Black Lily #1
Pub. Date:March 27, 2017
Length:300 pages

I can't tell you how excited I was when I learned that Juliette Cross was writing a series of retellings. I fell in love with her Morgons in the Nightwing and Vale of Stars series, so I couldn't wait to see what she would do with beloved characters from our childhood. And let me tell you... this is definitely Cinderella like you have never seen her before!

I won't rehash all of the world building because Juliette gives you a nice prologue giving the history of her fantastical realm of Varis featuring, much like the original fairytale, a hierarchical class system. The royal family consists of vampires, which are served by aristocrats, which are in turn served by peasants. Like many historical societies, the social stratification inspired a rebellion in the most harshly treated of the society. It is this framework of revolution in which we find The Black Lily

In this version of the tale, Cinderella has been recast as Arabella, an inspiring revolutionary who stands up for her beliefs despite the danger posed by vampires. There are a number of parallels to the original story... such as Arabella's attendance at the ball, and her service to odious sisters... but that's where the comparisons end. Arabella was a headstrong young woman, brash at times and rarely vulnerable. She inspired people to revolt, and was viewed by peasants far and wide as the one who would deliver them from the oppression of the upper classes. She had all the hallmarks of a good heroine.

Prince Marius is the youngest crown prince of Varis, approaching his 100th birthday within a few days of the beginning of our story. Unlike most of his royal family, he is noble and compassionate, if a bit willfully blind to the problems in his own kingdom. What I liked most about Marius was his willingness to listen and learn about problems in the lower classes, and take corrective action. Marius' eyes were opened by Arabella and he was able to be persuaded that the situation was not as ideal as he previously believed. Of course, as a fairytale prince, he is also smoking hot! But that's a given with any of Juliette's heroes. 

As you can imagine this was a forbidden romance, but our couple could not deny their attraction to one another. Marius was nearly obsessed with Arabella, and she was unable to push him away despite being part of the vampire nobility whom she detested. If there was one area where I wanted more... it was with regard to the main characters. I wished the book was longer so we could have gotten more backstory on Arabella and Marius, and spent more time with them as a couple. They were apart for the majority of the book, with only stolen moments in the midst of crises. I have a feeling they will play secondary roles in future installments of the series, so I am looking forward to revisiting them.

Speaking of future installments, this story featured some wonderful secondary characters. My favorites were Sienna, a noble woman living among the wolves in a haunted wood; and Princess Vilhelmina - an unexpectedly idealistic vampire princess. I also enjoyed the majestic hart wolves and I hope we get more of their story in the future. Juliette has some good fodder for the future books, so I can't wait to get them in my greedy hands.

I recommend this book to fans of retellings, fairytales and fantasy romance. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Entangled.