Some of my favorite classic novels were written by the Brontë sisters. So when I saw that there was going to be a new young adult fantasy novel about the Brontë siblings – Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother Bramwell – I was intrigued. Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley takes readers inside the imaginations of one of the most famously literary families in history.
Living in an isolated parsonage on the moors in rural England, the Brontë siblings have little to do besides chores. So they write. Their brilliant imaginations allow them to escape from their dull lives, and transport them directly into their created worlds. But when their imaginary lives threaten to overtake their real ones, and Bramwell starts to descend into madness, they must weigh the price of living within their imaginations, and escape from characters who refuse to let them go. Worlds of Ink and Shadow explores the unbreakable bonds between brothers and sisters, and between writers and their creations
This book was one of the most original things I’ve read in a while. I thought the plot was intriguing, and I like that the siblings all had their individual stories, but that they occasionally overlapped; Bramwell’s Rogue has a habit of interfering with Charlotte’s romances, for example. I also enjoyed how each writer played a character in their own story.
However, while the characters were interesting – and I could definitely see hints of each of the sisters’ novels in their personalities (I have read a novel by all three of them) – I didn’t quite connect with any of them. Conceptually, the plot was interesting, but essentially, you’re following around fictional characters following around fictional characters (in this context, I wouldn’t call the Brontë siblings “real”). So the reader is a bit more detached from the story than usual. Still, I think this book was written beautifully, and the story was intriguing (albeit a little weird).
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t a favorite. I’d recommend it for fans of Cornelia Funke’s Inkworld trilogy, because the concept was similar. I also think it would be a fun read for hardcore Brontë fans, because it was interesting to see the authors as characters. If it sounds interesting to you, I would definitely give it a shot.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.