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  • Writer's pictureCindy Kilbourne

Book Review: The Court of Miracles


Thank you to Random House Children's / Knopf Books for providing an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to like this book, and I'm sad to say I was left disappointed. Let me begin by saying that the premise is exciting, and the author is good at setting and description. I found my skin crawling with some of the vivid imagery. However, I found the execution in general lacking. My biggest issue is that I felt nothing for any of the characters except annoyance. Every last one fell flat, and often I had to refer to my notes to remember who was who because they were all static. Nina, our main character, reads so cold, self-serving, and emotionless, that even knowing her motivation to protect her sisters, I still couldn't sympathize or root for her. The story was all over the place. Emphasized issues were swapped so abruptly, and the time jumps left me floundering and wondering if something that was true years ago (in the last chapter) still holds because it wasn't mentioned again. Such as things pertaining to manner and appearance that were written to be very important, then pretty much fall away, this is also true of motivations and left me scratching my head. There were scenes where something would happen to a character, such as a terrible wound, and suddenly they're up and acting like nothing happened—going from laying there bleeding to hopping up and rushing around. There were a lot of unrealistic actions that are quite detrimental to the story, especially considering the book is written in first person. Yet, Nina's thoughts are contradictory to what happens. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, suffice it to say when something big was revealed, I didn't understand how it was possible considering the character's mindset on the issue. Overall the scenes seemed jumbled, some rushed, others pointless. The "love interests" felt tossed in simply to say there was some nod to romance, they too fell flat. There was no passion or actual interest, for that matter. It was more like being told one person liked another just for the sake of knowing. Like the characters themselves, it wasn't fleshed out. At the halfway point, I was bored. I pushed through because, as I said before, I wanted to like this book. There were some points of interest in the beginning, it sagged throughout the middle, and the end felt thrown together and rushed. The pacing was just odd. It was mostly slow with these odd random bursts that tricked me into thinking something was happening. Repetitive phrases were exhausting, and honestly, I just wanted something to happen. I felt a bit surprised, perhaps once in the book. Even parts meant to be surprising or shocking, I think, were done in a way that left me confused instead of that rush of excitement or dread I wanted to feel. Bear in mind this was not a final copy, so there may yet be editing to help tighten and brighten this manuscript, and I sincerely hope that is the case. I think this has so much potential; it just needs some work.

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