"The gown is only made of dignity," he said. "There are better materials to be had, of course, but this is what the brownies had on-hand. They were only too happy to rid themselves of it--they consider it quite useless, for all of the trouble that it brings."
'Ten Thousand Stitches' is Book 2 of the Regency Faerie Tales series and my favorite historical fiction series hands down, written by one of my favorite indie authors.. Olivia Atwater. This lady single-handedly won my appreciation for the genre with 'Half a Soul,' her debut of the series earlier this year and because of her, I've even learned to appreciate a couple of other historical fiction authors in recent months.
Honestly, I've always disliked the verbiage of the eras as a rule, so reading an entire novel full of it was a chore to me. Olivia's approach is different though.. and while there's enough language of the time sprinkled throughout her stories to set the atmosphere, she never overdoes it. She's found this balance.. where it's present enough that I don't find it too modern.. and I'm not distracted by it either.
In this story, we follow Miss Euphemia 'Effie' Reeves. A housemaid in the Ashbrooke manor who unfortunately falls in love with Benedict, a member of the family she serves.
Though she knows the tales of caution regarding the Fair Folk, when she happens across a faerie named Lord Blackthorn who desperately wants to help her win Benedict's heart, her unhappiness with her station makes her risk accepting his offer. Effie is given one hundred one days and ten thousand stitches.. to get Benedict to propose with Lord Blackthorn's help or she is sworn to become even more of what she already is in her servitude, but the faerie lord's overwhelmingly good intentions have a tendency to go wrong.
"If it makes you feel any better...Lady Hollowvale says that most faeries are very wicked indeed, by English standards. She tells me that I am a pleasant aberration."
One of the most wonderful things about Olivia's storytelling is the extensive knowledge through research or experience that she lovingly inks into every page. While truly fantastical, she infuses plenty of gritty texture too.. never shying away from the harsher realities of the time.. from the way people were treated to the challenges in their every day lives. She doesn't feel the need to make the ugly truths seem pretty and palatable, but rather allows the reader to see each layer for what it really is. And though she likes to pull back the veil a bit, she also writes main characters with so much heart.. the way they see the good of others around them is rather beautiful.
I love that she's unafraid to address privilege in her worlds and the way it is often wielded without care for those who don't have it. I also love the unapologetic way she paints her characters, not always needing to turn them into something new.. and instead, sometimes letting them learn to be happy with what they are.
Her world-building is spectacular, as is always the way her faerie magic tends to work. The origin of faerie fabrics is utterly whimsical. Born of emotions and traits, the things crafted from them are prone to inspiring certain reactions in those around them. Another of my favorite elements she employs, is the way the faeries tend to belong to their realms.. rather than the other way around.. and the resulting sentience it lends them.
"But you can grow...You have already grown, in fact. You simply haven't noticed it, because you are constantly looking at the sky, and not back down at your roots."
Effie is adorable. She's full of fire, even as she tries to keep it tucked away.. attempting to put her best foot forward and meet sometimes ridiculously unreasonable expectations. She cares about those around her strongly and cannot see herself to simply allow an injustice, even if it's not in her best interest at times to speak up.
Lord Blackthorn.. oh that lovely faerie made me emotional. Sometimes it was what he said.. and others it was what he didn't. Atwater does a beautiful job with him.. allowing him to be vulnerable in unexpected ways.. and he's just so earnest at times I found myself feeling very protective of him.. regardless of what disasters he might cause.
If you like faerie tales and historical fiction.. I cannot recommend this series to you enough. 'Ten Thousand Stitches' is out Tuesday, October 20th.. and book 3 is right around the corner too. In fact.. 'Longshadow' is already available to pre-order! Personally, though I read this in ARC form, I've already eagerly pre-ordered copies of both book 2 and book 3.