I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my review in any way.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow was definitely a very intriguing book and take on the Bronte siblings’ life. The book follows Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell, who are all curiously divided by their sisters’ deaths and ability to cross through to worlds they’ve created. Charlotte and Branwell have created their fairy-tale world of Verdopolis (but at what price? dun dun duhhh!) and after their elder sisters Maria and Elizabeth died, they’ve essentially forbidden Anne and Emily from coming with them. Neither Anne nor Emily has the “power”, if you will, to create and enter worlds that they write.
The concept of this book was really very intriguing. It dove into the lives of some of the world’s greatest authors, rooted around in their lives, and grew a fantasy story rich with vibrant with prose and twists and turns.
One of my favorite things about Worlds of Ink and Shadow was that it took familiar cliches- secret worlds, for example, or ghosts haunting people- and twisted them into something new and creepy and quirky and magical.
SO. Verdopolis. Cliche #1. Protagonist(s) manage to find their way into a magical secret world. Only, in Worlds of Ink and Shadow, Charlotte and Branwell have always been able to find their way into Verdopolis, and it’s a world of their own writing. It doesn’t feel like a cliche at all, honestly.
Spoiler in white: Quick little explanation before I go on- basically, Charlotte and Branwell have made a deal with Old Tom, a devil from folklore as told to them by their housekeeper Tabby. He’s taking days from their life in return for them being able to travel to Verdopolis. That’s why Anne and Emily aren’t allowed to go- Charlotte and Branwell feel they’ll go mad if they don’t visit, but Anne and Emily cannot visit without their siblings.
The hauntings! Cliche #2. Protagonist discovers something cool and creepy and really wants to keep it/stay with it/visit it but, PLOT TWIST (*gasp*), they begin to be haunted by the old man/young man/devil-creature/old woman who owns/lives in/created that cool and creepy thing. Yet again, Worlds of Ink and Shadow turns this around. Instead of being haunted (sorta) by someone completely unrelated and connected to them, Charlotte and Branwell get haunted by their dead sisters. Yikes. I mean, they weren’t really their dead sisters, but still. Yikes.
Now let’s talk about the writing. Lena Coakley filled Worlds of Ink and Shadow to the brim with prose and majestic language and beautiful, poetic-feeling conversations.
Anne reasoned that there must be a part of Emily’s mind that Emily herself was unaware of, a part of the mind that flowed unseen like a subterranean river, thinking its own thoughts and making its own decisions without consulting Emily at all.
Just think of the entire book being this pretty.
This book, however, didn’t leave much of a lasting impression on me. It had an amazing plotline (even though it could be confusing at times), interesting characters, and lovely writing, but there was never just enough to keep me hooked all the way- it was great, but also kind of “meh”.
However, Worlds of Ink and Shadow was still one of the most intriguing twists on real life and fantasy I’ve read in a while.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow
by Lena Coakley
Pub. date: January 5, 2016
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.
Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink & Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families.