The Court of Miracles is a criminal underground, a place where those who don’t belong in polite Parisian society can be accepted and find protection. Thieves, prostitutes, assassins, smugglers, mercenaries, gamblers, beggars, drug addicts and forgerers, they all have their guild and a lord or lady to rule over them. But something is rotten in the Guild of Flesh, where women are bought and drugged, forced into the profession by The Tiger. Once he sets his sights on you, there is no escape.

OK, hands up who bought this book because it was pretty and promised sexy naked-bookness? I admit that was part of my reasoning but alternate history fantasy set in Paris is kind of my catnip, so I couldn’t resist The Court of Miracles. I’m glad I didn’t, despite a bit of a luke-warm reaction across the blogoshpere. Once I got into the worldbuilding I was absorbed.

First off, I know nothing about Les Miserables, which might help in me not trying to make comparisons or connections. I think a lot of the characters have Les Mis names? It is also combines elements of The Jungle Book which I am more familiar with and I felt was done well. Nina is known as the Black Cat, so is Bagheera, and Ettie is Mowgli, the child wanted by The Tiger. The structure of it had a feel of The Jungle Book too, taking the child from place to place.

Nina loses her sister to The Tiger and initially sees Ettie as a bargaining chip to get her back. Fortunately, she sees the error of her ways before she does anything she can regret, but Ettie is already in danger. The only way she can be safe is to join a Guild, but who will take her knowing she is The Tiger’s prey? Once I understood what was going on, I loved the journey around this alternate Paris, going from guild to guild, learning what they were really about.

I think the dauphin is an emotional, lonely boy who would care for a hat if it showed him the least bit of attention.

There is only a touch of magic, and it doesn’t really have a romance. Nina’s path crosses with the young dauphin but it is not that kind of rags to riches story. This is set after the revolution failed, the uprising was quashed before anyone could storm the Bastille. But the mumurings of revolution have never really subsided, and the rebels are yet another layer of this world.

I went into it expecting it to be a standalone, and I felt satisfied with it as it is, but I hear there will at least be another book and I will definitely be reading it. This was a solid debut and Kester Grant is one to watch.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 9. A book with a map

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The Court of Miracles Waterstone edition