In this modern-day Beauty and the Beast retelling, Raven Wethersby is a budding young fashion designer living a difficult life for a seventeen-year-old. Her mother is dead and her stepfather has never really recovered.
When her stepfather returns home after a night out drinking with a note requesting a meeting with the town’s most prominent and notorious family, Raven takes it upon herself to go in his stead.
What results is a bargain struck with the young, insufferable – albeit very handsome – Gideon Maddox, now head of the Maddox family following his father’s death. In return for her stepfather’s care in an expensive rehab clinic (and his debt to the Maddoxes forgiven), Raven will have to stay in the Maddox mansion for a year, working for Gideon on a new fashion label. And she will need to hand over all her designs to him.
The Artisans had the unfortunate fate of being picked up and put down multiple times during the initial chapters while I was forced to allocate my time to other non-reading related commitments. This stop-start approach left me a little disenchanted, and at about eight chapters in I was still yet to find that spark that has prompted the rave reviews and positive hype surrounding this book.
I was concerned I never would.
I needn’t have worried, though. Once I allowed myself to dedicate a decent amount of reading time to this novel, I was well and truly sucked in. I reached that point of no return about a quarter of the way through, and was unable to put this wonderful story down from that moment on.
There may have been one other factor that hampered my enjoyment of the first quarter: the lack of interaction between Raven and Gideon upon her initial arrival to the mansion. From their first meeting we could tell this was going to be a very interesting relationship; we knew from Raven’s inner thoughts that she hated Gideon (justly so, as he was blackmailing her and holding her against her will), but I could have done with a few more interactions to demonstrate the heavy friction between them.
As I mentioned, though, once the story got going, it really didn’t stop. Though an original take on the classic tale, it still had all the right ingredients: a pretty girl held against her will to save her ‘father’, a beastly overlord slash love interest, an old manor full of forbidden rooms and bumps in the night, and, of course, a curse.
The concept was intriguing and the characters interesting and relatable – I especially liked Raven’s friends, Dane and Maggie, who seemed so real they could have slotted perfectly into any of our own friendship groups. Raven herself was refreshing in her uniqueness, yet not so out there you couldn’t find yourself relating. And Gideon, though rather obnoxious and abrasive at the start (which was rather a given) grew more and more sympathetic as layer upon layer was stripped back to reveal his true character.
A well-written standalone recommended for any fans of fairytales, ghost stories, antiheroes or fashion!
Thanks to Month9Books for providing a review copy of this book
Reviewed by Ash Bye