'The Lady Jewel Diviner' by Rosalie Oaks is a rather light tale that follows the path of one Miss Elinor Avely, her burgeoning friendship with a tiny vampiri named Aldreda, and their search for a cache of missing jewels.
Already having fallen into scandal in London because of her gift of divination, having only tried to be helpful, Elinor and her family escape to the county of Devon. Tucking themselves away in the home of a friend's father, she's seemingly pursued by a most determined Lord Treffler.. who wants her help finding the cache which is supposed to be hidden somewhere along the coastline.
Aided by her brother, Perry and Miss Zooth, the vampiri lady.. Elinor grows more and more intent on locating the jewels herself after coming across a pair of French refugees who tell her the story of their own lost jewels.. taken by the very same people who smuggled them into the country. Desperately wanting to assist her new friends, Elinor finds herself running afoul of the Earl of Beresford.. a nobleman who'd tried to save her from the situation in London previously and a cast of unsavory characters thought to be involved in the smuggling at hand.
The story is quite charming, as is the cast. Oaks has some skill, the strongest of which seems to be that of misdirection. She's careful not to telegraph the most important facts and displays an ability to create characters with interesting potential for backstories of their own.
That being said, the book is only slightly above average overall for me because the aforementioned potential doesn't really come to fruition. We're really only given bare bones about the characters and so I never felt any real investment in most of their situations.
As we're allowed to get to know Aldreda a little more than the others, I found myself moderately concerned for her well-being.. but the rest, no matter how dire their situations.. just couldn't summon a care within me. Likewise, the story is much more 'tell' than 'show.' The only character we get a pretty good description of is Jaq, who certainly sounds handsome enough.. but then when faced with the opportunity to really give him some depth of history.. it's just not delivered.
Most expanded details on the characters are presented briefly toward the end of the book. In fact, the novel is so devoid of description in many cases.. that I didn't realize I had no idea what Elinor looked like until something mentioned as the story wound to a close.. yet there was a tendency to almost waste words on overdoing greetings each time people came together. While I know there's a formality she was trying to achieve to reflect the societal ways of the period, it simply wasn't necessary for each person to greet each other in nearly every meeting.
Regardless of those small constructive criticisms, I still DID enjoy the story. It was told with a sort of levity that isn't overly common in modern releases, where being edgier is viewed as being more 'interesting.' There's a small, but creative mix of fantastical beings and what could certainly be a creative magic system.. if only it were developed and presented more thoroughly.
If you're looking for an easy read at the end of a rough day, this might be for you. Kick back.. relax.. and explore what Oaks' world has to share..