*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books
Edition: Hardcover, 394 Pages
Publication Date: March 01, 2022
A Spine that Shines? Partially
Can love survive the dark?
No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.
When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.
Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.
With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.
The woods came for Emeline the way they always did: creeping in with the shadows, seeping up through the cracks. Emeline, they whispered. Sing us a true song.
-Kristen Ciccarelli, Edgewood
Hello, everyone! What have you been reading? I finished reading Edgewood a few days ago and am here to share my thoughts with you all. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I initially thought I would.
Let’s jump into some of my initial thoughts:
- Your enjoyment of this book will depend largely on whether you like contemporary fantasy.
- When I requested this book, I didn’t quite realize it was a contemporary fantasy set in both Montreal and a fae woodsy realm. For me personally, I wasn’t so interested or invested in the contemporary parts. Whenever Emeline kept remembering her music career back in the real world, it kept pulling me out of the fantasy parts of the story.
- My favorite aspects of the story were definitely the cursed, fae woodsy realm, magical powers that are connected to the woods and singing, flaming “ember” mares, creatures called shadow skins, and the other elements that felt fairy tale-like.
- It also felt like there was just a lot trying to be mushed into this story. There were several different threads, and I felt like the book kept jerking me in different directions. These threads were sometimes interesting, but because there was so much going on, it seemed like not all of the threads got fully developed. For example, the first half of the book is largely about Emeline chasing after missing sheet music and trying to become the Wood King’s singer. But then being the Wood King’s singer doesn’t really play a large role anymore in the second half – until the very end of the book. I found the switch back to the contemporary world distracting.
Characters & Romance
Here is a brief overview of the characters and romance:
- Emeline is our 19-year-old main character. She is a musician trying to make it big and sign on with a record label in Montreal. But then she is pulled into the magical world of the forest at the edge of Edgewood, her home town. Sadly, I didn’t love her character. At times, Emeline was a really frustrating. She kept reiterating her dislike/distrust of the love interest and also kept doing things that went against common sense – like trying to make demands of a crazed fae king and attempting to trick him again.
- Hawthorne is the Wood King’s tithe collector, but I really wanted to know more about this role. What are his limitations in this position? How does he feel about being the tithe collector? Etc. It seemed like he was mainly there to be the object of Emeline’s sexual desire.
- In fact, I have mixed feelings about the romance between Hawthorne and Emeline. I sort of liked the romance in the beginning, but never felt super invested. Towards the second half/end of the story, the romance became a bit … uncomfortable to read about. I was trying to come up with the word that best describes it, and I think that word is “uncomfortable” – partly due to the context, which I’m trying not to spoil. But there are a couple of sex scenes that are more NA in content, and one of them kind of grossed me out to be honest. Again, it’s difficult to explain why without spoiling, but I’ll just say it didn’t make me root for the couple. The thing I liked the best about the romance was actually what occurred in the final chapter.
- The main side characters from the fae realm are Sable, Grace, and Rooke. Unfortunately, although this book is almost 400 pages long, I felt like I barely got to know these side characters. I really didn’t feel anything for them. They all tend to jump in and put their lives at risk for Emeline when it doesn’t seem like she’s done anything to deserve such loyalty. (This does make a little more sense later, but I don’t want to spoil anything.)
- One character I really liked was Emeline’s grandfather. He seemed like the most endearing character in the book. Although he was very forgetful, it was sweet to see his relationship with Emeline and how much he cared for her.
The final quarter of the book also dragged a bit for me; it seemed like the ending kept getting stretched out again and again. And I started to wonder when the real climax was going to be.
In my opinion, the reveals took a little too long to get to, and by that time, I had already guessed several of them. In one of the big reveals toward the end of the story, a lot of info is dumped on the reader in a single, long chapter.
Also, why doesn’t Joel bring up what happened in Emeline’s grandpa’s house when he visited Edgewood? It doesn’t really seem like he freaks out much, and the incident isn’t mentioned again.
Despite the things I’ve mentioned, I am thankful for the opportunity to read this and would still give this author’s other books a chance. I think it is important to acknowledge that every book is the product of an author’s hard work and effort, and I liked the way the book actually ended in the final chapter. It was poetic in a way and romantic. This book probably would’ve been a 3-star for me, but the ending bumped it up to a 3.5. Other readers may still enjoy this book more than I did. Happy reading 🙂
*Content Warnings: Several uses of the f-word; sex scenes more on the New Adult level (not fade-to-black); some fantasy violence.*
Copyright © 2022 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)
Up Next on My TBR: A Forgery of Roses (ARC)