I saw this book in Waterstones and fell in love with the book cover, then saw the sprayed edges and just knew I had to buy it. The story drew me in from the synopsis and the first few sentences, and it’s safe to say, has become one of my favourite books of all time.
Both Beatrice and Rosa have regrets and made mistakes in their lives, which they wish they could undo. So when the Spider Queen hosts a competition where the prize is a wish, both women will do whatever it takes to win that wish as both want to undo their mistakes. Will their friendship survive the competition?
Oh my god, this book is spectacular! The writing style is just perfection, and the storyline is so intriguing and intoxicating. I absolutely adored every moment of it, from start to finish.
What I Liked:
- Asexual representation – I love any good representation, and Beatrice was no exception (she’s great)
- The dynamics – I love Beatrice and Rosa’s friendship, and how James and Eustace are exact opposites of one another
- The magical garden – I loved the magical elements incorporated in through the flowers/plants, and the Winter Garden sounds amazing
What I Disliked:
- Extremities – I don’t necessarily enjoy how extreme some of the characters were at times
Characterisation: I loved Beatrice, Rosa and particularly James. Beatrice and Rosa balance each other out really well, and even swap traits at times, such as being stubborn to an extreme. Because of this, their friendship has a good dynamic and works well, and I’m glad they became friends again.
James is just a nice guy. I can see why both women value him as a person because he’s supportive and gives good advice when they both need it most. But he’s also good for the story as he applies his expertise with flowers/plants, which is important for their pleasure gardens.
Eustace, on the hand, acts as the polar opposite of James. He represents societal expectations, but goes to an extreme as he is abusive towards Rosa. But what I found particularly interesting is when Rosa realised Eustace doesn’t realise he’s being abusive because it’s so true. Abusive people don’t necessarily realise they’re doing anything wrong, and it’s something I haven’t seen potentially ever.
Story Structure: Since there are two main protagonists, there are two separate inciting incidents, but they both drive the main themes of regrets and mistakes. The climax and resolution, on the other hand, are intertwined as the regrets and mistakes reach their peak, and it seems as if everything’s lost, but they manage to recover some of what is lost.
The paving is good, so much so that I didn’t notice any dips in the story. The plot moves along and has enough happening to not feel like the story was dragging on, and to keep you intrigued from the very beginning.
Other Thoughts: I really appreciate how Alexandra Bell reminds us that it’s human nature to have regrets and make mistakes, but to undo those mistakes could have unforeseen consequences that could be infinitely worse than the mistake we made in the first place. Plus, while we might not see it at the time (or ever), sometimes those regrets/mistakes might’ve led us to a better path than the one we could’ve ended up on, especially if it was a path we thought we should walk down, rather than the path we wanted to walk down. It’s a lesson I learnt several years ago, but it’s always good to have that reminder sometimes.
I loved this book from start to finish and would love to dive back in again. It’s utterly enchanting and magical and so worth reading. I wish I could forget I ever read it to experience it for the first time again, and yet I wouldn’t want to forget such a beautiful story.