This Chick Read: Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman

A different take on the Scarlet Pimpernel story, Scarlet takes place during the French Revolution in a world where vampires are among the elite in society, and are being put to their deaths via guillotine. Marie Antoinette and her children are being held in prison awaiting their trial and eventual deaths. The league of the Scarlet Pimpernel want to save the French monarchy and find the perfect distraction, a young English maid who is the spitting image of the French queen. Now embroiled in a mission beyond her life’s normal scope, Eleanor is determined to help save their lives and in return improve her position in society.

I’m a big fan of Genevieve Cogman’s previous series, The Invisible Library, and really enjoyed the intricate world she created full of dragon’s, fae, and librarian’s who fought agents of chaos. I was eager to pick up Scarlet and see how this author’s creativity would apply to a well-known historical reality and fictional cast plus vampires and mystical elements. I’ll admit to feeling a bit let down. This novel felt like it was a little lost. Eleanor was a naive young maid who wished for a better life and was thrown into this secret spy society, and despite the situations she found herself in, never seemed to grow into the character I know this author wished most fervently for her to become. I say the word fervently because I could almost feel the push and pull of machinations in plotlines that somehow seemed to fall a little flat. Disappointment thy name is Scarlet.

I’ve read a lot of Scarlet Pimpernel stories, seen movies, watched tv shows, etc. and this novel was certainly a different take, but what it failed to do was make what Percy was doing feel real. I think part of the problem is that we were viewing the story through the eyes of Eleanor, a young maid who was educated by books, but not in life. A lot of what she viewed (and there wasn’t much of it truly) was through the eyes of naiveté and/or a greed to get out of her circumstances into something better. The contrast between that ‘want’ and what was going around her in Paris during the Revolution was a bit jarring and hard to overlook. I mean the citizens of France rose up against the wealthy because they were hungry and poor and this girl (and the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel) wanted to maintain society as it was. I’m not sure how you could fix that problem in her character except by making her more sympathetic. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I too felt like I was left bereft… of a plot that made more sense.

I had hope for a more intricate world building from this author. The story and world didn’t feel very detailed, which I know this author can do and I kept waiting for it to kick into another gear and it just never did. ❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest. Sorry.

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