Warning: gif has strong language(show spoiler)
You didn't think that was all, did you? No, I have some words for this book.
What this book got right: Idea that fairy tales could be real
What this book go wrong:
The sad thing is, the book did get easier to read after 80+ pages. I think by then I was just not going to let this win. And I wanted to make sure that the book was as predictable as it appeared to be.
Characters: These were some of the most lifeless, unreal fictional characters I've ever read. That was when they were not being annoying, TSTL (which was so very often), cliches, or even the most flawed Mary Sue I've ever seen. I mean what else do you call someone who miraculously knows how to trick ride (while being shot at apparently), fabulous gambling luck, and the cute, young Professor inexplicably drawn to her and yet Ophelia is so untrusting, manipulative, and overbearing. Her friend Prue gave her a run for her money though. She was basically TSTL twenty-four hours a day (her own friend quit her job after Prue was fired because the girl couldn't take care of herself), whiny, refuses to help the people who are risking their lives to save her by staying put, and apparently has an existential crisis because she not beautiful any more(because she's in a servant's dress, slept in a tower with birds, etc. - it's called soap). To be fair, this part of her story nearly worked. It really did. Her mother had raised her to see men as money bags and her beauty her meal ticket. And yes, she doesn't have a lot of education or common sense, so she's never moved beyond the artificial. But again, she doesn't feel real. She's a cliche, a caricature. You never felt there was really any growth or understanding. The best of the horrible lot (literally. Almost every character was a terrible person.) was Professor Penrose But this intelligent man spent the entire book being selectively stupid so that the plot could continue.(show spoiler)
Mystery: *hysterical laughter* The only reason there was a mystery in this book was everyone was selectively stupid so the plot could progress. We're told Penrose is intelligent but I've yet to see evidence of that. Ophelia, who spent half the book willfully ignoring several elements, sudden pulled evidence together to make deductions Holmes would be proud of. Why then?
And the murderer was basically the only one not suspected and was so obvious! My old maxim of the more you have to tell me how _____ you are, the less likely you actually are was proven true.(show spoiler)
Writing: It couldn't hold my interest. I was lucky if I could read three pages at once before I was off watching TV, playing games on my phone...doing chores. Then I remembered I needed to finish this soon so back I would go. Two and half pages later, down the book went. Rinse and repeat. Even as the story came to an end and the pace picked up, I could barely get through a chapter. The POV shifted from character to character, as if even the book didn't find them interesting enough to stay with. Predominately, we saw everything through Ophelia's eyes but Prof. Penrose, Prue, and others all had their moments. And I don't know where these girls learned their phrases but I've never heard half of them. I don't think they come from any America I know. It was almost as if Ophelia and Prue had to be hyper 'Mericans so that you could tell them apart from the Germans, British, etc. I don't remember them actually saying "Jumping Jehoshaphat" but much of it was along those lines. But then even Penrose didn't really sound British and some of the word choices didn't really call to mind the late 1860s either.
This isn't in any way a spoiler but just in case, I'm hiding it. If you read the title and the back of the book, you've already figured it out.
I can't help but feel like I missed something with this book but for the life of me, I don't know what. This is one of the weakest cozy mysteries I've read in a long time and I have NO plans to read the sequel. It was clearly set up but
Reading Progress Updates: