Cinders of Glass
Bewitching Fairy Tales, #4
Released April 18, 2022
There are those 5–star books that have the best world building, fantastic writing, amazing characters and plot. And then, there are those 5–star reads that simply provided a 5–star reading experience.
Cinders of Glass is one of the latter.
Don't get me wrong though. COG also has great world building and all that; however, it really excels in the reading experience. It's essentially FLAWLESS in that aspect.
Everything wasn't perfect, but let's talk about why I still LOVED COG!
» Quick side note. I finished this in like 3 days; it was just that good! However, it's now been about 2 months since I finished it, so you'll have to forgive me if my memory is a bit spotty! Thanks! :)
World Building ~ 7.5/10
The world building is beautiful! I love the descriptions of the world, what Liora's life is like compared to Cynrik's.
The world itself seemed to be set up very well. However, I really think that's primarily due to the fact that this is the 4th book in the series. While this book can be read as a standalone, I think reading them in order would have helped a bit with not just the world building but also the over–arching plot and character development. Because I didn't read them in order (and actually started with COG), I missed out on a better understanding of the aforementioned portions. I do, though, intend to go back and read all the books in order . . . eventually. lol XD
With that being said, I want to judge the book on its own merits since it can be read as a standalone. That's the main reason why I docked a couple (very minor) points in this section. I just would have wanted a bit more description for the world itself. Like, I'm still not 100% sure on the continent's politics; there was enough to understand it, but a deeper understanding would have been nice.
Aside from the overall world, the immediate settings (the market, the castle, Liora's house, etc.) were very well described. I could picture those settings very vividly, and I think Celeste Baxendell definitely captured the magic of fairy tales and fairy tale retellings.
I wish I could gush more, but I have a stupid character count to worry about. :\ (And yeah, I forgot some stuff too. Shut up; I'm not the only one who forgets stuff . . . right? lol)
Characters ~ 7.5/10
The characters were really great! Again, I do wish that I could have gotten some more development with the secondary characters (or maybe there was, but I just can't remember. . . .)
Nonetheless, all the characters were well–described and very interesting.
Liora is one of our MCs and one of our POVs. And she is also the combined characters of Cinderella and the Little Match Girl. (If you didn't know, CB combines 2 fairy tales into one retelling. Liora is the result of smushing together the two MCs of the well–known tale Cinderella and the lesser–known Little Match Girl.)
I really like how we get some of the character traits and/or aspects of Cinderella and of the Little Match Girl. However, we also get a bunch of new traits and aspects that just really make Liora a really original character. Don't get me wrong though; Liora isn't "not like other girls"; she kinda is like many female MCs. She's shy and timid but also learns to stand up for herself. Truth be told, I see that trope a fair bit.
However, it's how she acts and what she does that truly make her unique. I really like the progression and the character development that leads to her standing up for herself and taking charge of her future.
Last, I thought it was really interesting, seeing how she behaves at home, how she takes care of Marlena (whom I LOVED!), how she was at her booth in the market, and how she worked with Cynrik. I thought how they all contrasted were particularly interesting. I think that being able to see all of this just makes her growth and confidence gains so much more memorable.
If Liora's growth was good, Cynrik's was top notch! Okay, well . . . it wasn't Zuko–level development, but maybe Sokka–level? Zuko's growth was obvious; Sokka's was a bit subtler. (And if you don't get these ATLA references, then you need to go watch it! Like, right now!)
I enjoyed reading about Cynrik's journey to changing himself for the better, to loving himself, and to opening up to others. (And probably more stuff too . . . spoilery stuff.) This journey to learning about himself and others really gives me those "Sokka–level–growth" vibes, and I'm all here for it!
I think what made this journey particularly enjoyable and believable was that we got to read his thoughts, as he was the other MC and POV in COG. Getting to read his thoughts was just so interesting! And I'm glad that he had a distinct enough voice that I didn't have too much trouble keeping him and Liora apart.
I would have loved to see what Cynrik was like before meeting Liora. You know? Like in the other books?
Plot ~ 8.5/10
The plot was very interesting. It was kind of a mystery x fairy tale retelling x fairy tale romance. That sounds kinda weird, but trust me. It worked. It really did.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is it's just a fairy tale retelling (complete with a cute romance) with a bit of mystery interlaced in it. And like, the mystery is actually good — not like those "mysteries" where it's blaringly obvious for everyone except for the MC. We all know them. (Okay, I'm not the best mystery–solver, but I still think the mystery was good.)
In terms of the "retelling" portion, I think that was really creative! In case you don't know the tale of the Little Match Girl (untagged spoiler warning!), the Match Girl is an orphan, selling matches to live. One cold winter night, she lights a match to keep warm, and she sees through the stone wall a family enjoying a hot turkey; she's even able to smell the food. She then lights one match after the other to continue seeing these visions. At the last match, she sees a vision of her grandmother saying something along the lines of "Come, child." She goes with her beloved grandmother in peace. The next morning, people find the little girl's body, dead and cold. And that's how The Little Match Girl ends; it's quite tragic honestly.
COG (and Cinderella, for that matter) is decisively not tragic. It even ends with the classic fairy tale ending, complete with a "Happily Ever After."
However, the parallels to both are still there. Just a heads up, though, I'm going to be very vague because of, you know, spoilers. There's still a ball that Liora goes to. Liora sells magical matches, one of which shows you your deepest dream (like in the Little Match Girl).
Where the story deviates and becomes original is when Liora (the Match Girl x Cinderella) works with Cynrik (the Prince Charming) to solve a mystery. . . . When I say "mystery," it's actually more of a conspiracy, but I won't say anymore! Also, Cynrik is very much of a flirt, which is a bit different from the Disney fairy tale most, if not all, of us know.
I won't say anymore for fear of accidentally spoiling something, but I will say that figuring out the mystery/conspiracy was super fun for me to uncover! (I'll talk more in the spoiler section!)
Relationships ~ 7.5/10
So, the relationships were really good. It's been a while, so I can't really remember all of the nuances in every relationship. Regardless, I still remember my two favorite relationships, which I'll highlight in just a sec!
But first, let me rant about how much I dislike Liora's stepmother and Cynrik's brother. Liora really loves her family, which is admirable, but she also likes her stepmother. From Cinderella, we know that's going to end badly. The twist, though, is REALLY interesting! It was hinted at, so it wasn't entirely surprising, but just the path to it was surprising. Plot and character stuff aside, I really dislike how Liora's family treated her.
I also don't really like Cynrik's brother, (not much of a spoiler, but just in case) **SPOILER REDACTED**. He was just a bit of a jerk, prioritizing the kingdom over his family, and Cynrik's sister says as much to Cynrik. Nonetheless, he turned out okay. . . .
Anyway, on to my favorite relationships!
~Liora & Marlena~
First, can I just say how much I LOVED Liora and Marlena's relationship! Even though they aren't really sisters, there bond might as well be a sisterly bond!
Their relationship was just so wholesome (okay, as much as it could be) and sweet. Despite Liora's stepmother making her take care of Marlena, Liora made the most of it. As a result, Liora and Marlena became really close.
I so enjoyed just seeing them interact — just the care and attention they both paid to each other. Aach, so sweet!!
~Cynrik & Liora~
Let's just be honest. This is a fairy tale. It would be a bigger surprise if they didn't get together.
Their relationship was so cute! It's kinda a slow–burn romance, but the attraction was pretty much instant. Still, seeing them start to trust each other was just adorable! I loved seeing them start to slowly fall for the other.
It was especially interesting because they both felt the other was too good for them. They were just so similar, and it allowed them to understand each other really well! That being said, I can't remember how much tension or chemistry there was.
While there wasn't a whole lot of visible chemistry, their relationship still worked for me. I think honestly it was just how well they understood each other that really sold it for me. They just clicked.
Prose & Pacing ~ 9/10
Personally, I loved both the prose and the pacing. COG was definitely a long book, but I actually liked that it was that long. Okay, so maybe there were portions that could have moved a bit faster (at least with the ARC I read), but overall, I had no issues.
CB has a stellar writing style, and her writing just flows right off the page. It really made those pages fly by!
I just LOVED COG! It's not the most complicated book ever, but it's very easily a slump breaker! If retellings are your thing, then you definitely should pick up COG; I think you'll like it! :)
I received a free eARC from the author via StoryOrigin, in exchange for an honest review
Full review posted to Goodreads
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