On her seventeenth birthday, Megan of Chaumont discovers she’ll be sold as a bride to the brutish Volodane family—within hours. Her father grants only that she may choose which one of the ruthless, grasping lord’s three sons she weds:
~ Rolf, the eldest: stern, ambitious, and loyal?
~ Sebastian, the second son: sympathetic, sly, and rebellious?
~ Or Kai, the youngest: bitter, brooding, and proud?
As shy, horrified Megan flees the welcome dinner for her in-laws-to-be, she finds an enchanted mirror that will display how her life unrolls with each man, as if she were living it out in a breath. But there is no smooth “happily ever after” in her choices.
Deaths and honors, joys and agonies, intrigues and escapes await her in a remote, ramshackle keep, where these rough but complex men reveal one side and then another of their jagged characters—and bring forth new aspects of Megan, too. But the decisions of one teenaged marriage-pawn reverberate much farther than any of them have guessed . . .
Pros – What If….? Trope with bonus Sliding Doors feeling, realistic “you can’t always win everything”, decent variations between each character’s “door”
Cons – Events until a certain point are repetitive feeling, folk break “Guest Right” constantly
Notes – There are spoilers for each path here. If you would like a spoiler free review, please head to my Goodreads review
Review – So one of my absolute favorite tropes is the “What If…?” trope. I love dwelling on paths not chosen. I live for that sort of thing. So right off the bat this book’s summary appealed to me.
It’s by no means perfect; the events all, to one extent or another, are the same up until after the first formal dinner (and in two of the three storylines, its the same even further then that) so it feels repetitive in the way Choose Your Own Adventure books could feel. Slightly different exchanges, such as how Megan handles meeting the kitchen staff, speak more to what will ultimately be the important theme for the life she could lead.
If she chooses Rolf, she chooses a husband that will respect her for her bravery, cleverness and ability to be resourceful. Her life is one filled with power, prestige and if not love, affection and fidelity from her husband. She does however sacrifice having children of her own, anonymity for her “gift” and Sebastian’s life.
If she chooses Kai, she chooses a husband that is gentle, respects her boundaries and seeks to help her improve her understanding of the world. Her life is filled with close friends, helping those in need and independence to live how she chooses. She sacrifices having children, a “real” marriage, Rolf’s life and her father-in-law’s life.*
If she chooses Sebastian, she chooses a husband that truly loves her, respects her and wants to build a family with her. Her life isn’t prestigious or wholly her own, but it is filled with people who care about her and a husband that loves her completely. She sacrifices Rolf’s life, Sebastian’s friendship and the comforts of being a well heeled lady.
There is no WRONG choice here for her. As she sees each brother offers something she needs and something she wants. All three lives would be GOOD lives worth living, but whether the sacrifices she has to make for each one are worth the end result is what this book really wants you to think about.**
Technically you could call this an older YA/NA since Megan is 17 at the start and largely the book never verges beyond PG13 in terms of the romance. It’s basically medieval fantasy, the only magic involved is that of the mirror and that of Megan’s “gift” (which isn’t a big part of two of the stories).
And while it wasn’t a detraction, Hendee’s writing is better for the small details. Little things like how Megan responds to her new home (or whether leaning on Kai is a smart move) do more to explain how each choice shifts her thought process then the almost a bit too exposition heavy writing.
This all said it was an extremely quick read for me and one I was happy to stay awake past my bedtime for. I look forward to the next book quite a bit!
(*) The handling of Kai is…okay and likely as realistic as you could ask for considering this is a medieval based fantasy, but it feels constrained by that foundation as well. Hendee relies on some quick answer stereotyping to get the point across. As this isn’t an overly long book and each brother is given roughly the same amount of pages to “show” what her life could be like the effect is more jarring and makes this choice of life possibly less charming than the others.
(**) We are told who she chooses in the end. The book isn’t a “Lady or a Tiger” situation. However you can very easily ignore that one little word if you think any of the other lives are worth being the ending instead.
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Published by: Rebel Base Books
Release: January 9, 2018
Series: Dark Glass Book 1
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