I love fairy tale retellings so much. When done well, they’re often some of my favourite books. Historical Romance, on the other hand, isn’t a genre I often turn to, but I have been enjoying it a little more. Which meant the Regency Faerie Tales books were books that I was curious about. After reading all three, I can easily say these were some of my new favourite books. I was super lucky to receive all three of the books in this trilogy thanks to the team Orbit and Tracy from Compulsive Readers. I’m so happy I’m on this tour!
The Regency Faerie Tales books follow three young women whose lives wind up interconnected due to their ties to various different fae in Regency England. The first two books are 100% fairy tale retellings. The third book… I couldn’t pin down as one specific tale, but there were hints of others like The Goose Girl within its pages.
I decided the best thing to do with this post would be to post mini-reviews of all three books. If you’re looking for a review of a particular book, you can scroll down to just that one. But as a whole, I adored this series. I’ll definitely be reading more of Atwater’s books, and let me tell you, it’s worth reading the short stories set in this world too!
Half A Soul
This book was very clearly a Rumplestiltskin retelling, something I was excited by as I adore that fairytale. Only, rather than focusing on the girl who’s tricked by this faerie entity, instead, we follow the child that the entity wants. I loved this idea, and it definitely worked really well.
Half A Soul follows Theodora, who has been cursed by a faerie to no longer feel fear or embarrassment. It makes fitting into society pretty difficult for Dora, but her cousin still wants her around as they start their season in London. In the capital, they meet the uncouth Lord Sorcier who is fascinated by Dora’s condition and promises to help her fix it. As Dora finds herself drawn into the affairs of both the fae and high society, she starts to wonder if she can fall in love, even though she only has half a soul.
I ate this book up. It was pretty short at only 239 pages, and I would have quite happily read a longer version of this story. Dora and Elias were both such interesting characters. Both of them have had a hard time – something you see more for Elias in the short stories, but I digress – and it’s lovely to see them grow together. They can be a support that others might not offer them, seeing how they’re both considered rude by polite society.
I’m often very picky about the fae in books, and in many ways, the courtly politics of these fae would be something I’d usually dislike…I enjoyed the characters enough that I didn’t care. Especially as the fae in this book weren’t exactly nice.
The last thing I want to note is that workhouses feature pretty prominently in this book. As someone who spent a lot of time visiting a workhouse museum growing up as her ancestors once lived there, and it was fun…I can say the workhouses in this felt pretty accurate. Something I wasn’t really expecting. Atwater clearly did her research, and I was so pleased.
Ten Thousand Stitches
Book 2 was a Cinderella retelling focusing on a servant girl with a lot of anger. Actually, in some ways, it gave me Aladdin the Disney movie vibes too. It was the whole transformation and continuing to pretend to be someone she wasn’t. It was a lot of fun.
In Ten Thousand Stitches, we follow Effie, a servant who has unfortunately fallen for Mr Benedict Ashbrooke. Why is it unfortunate? Benedict is one of the gentlemen in the family she works for. After she accidentally stumbles into Lord Blackthorn, a faerie who is very eager to copy human virtue, he becomes very eager to help her win him over. Effie knows she shouldn’t make the deal, but her life is bad enough she’s willing to risk her soul in the hope of taking a step up in the world. Now, Effie has 100 days and 10,000 stitches to win Benedict over with Blackthorn’s help. But along the way, she finds herself falling for someone unexpected and finds that completing the bargain isn’t what she wants.
There are a lot of Cinderella retellings out there, but this one felt fresh. Effie was just so angry, and that anger is the spark that sets her on this journey. Her feelings are a kind of magic that no one would expect. It was fascinating to read about, and, just like with the first book, I didn’t want to put this one down.
As much as I adored Dora and Elias’s romance in the first book, I liked the relationship between Effie and Blackthorn a little more. It was sweet, and I adored seeing them slowly fall for each other. It was cutesy and perfect.
You also get to see a little more of the faerie realm in this book, and I enjoyed that too. You get more of a feel of how the world worked, and I found myself liking it.
Finally, just as the first book had a slightly more serious focus on workhouses, this book looks into how servants were treated. You see a bit of a revolution in this book, and it’s hinted at the end that Effie and Blackthorn go on to encourage more uprisings in other rich houses. It was interesting to see a focus on how different things were for the rich and poor at a time like this without it needing to end with the characters rich. It worked really well.
I’d say that Longshadow was the book in the series I was most excited about. It’s a queer romance following the adopted daughter of Dora and Elias from the first book. It was sweet, seeing her all grown up and gave me those found family vibes that I adore. I would say if you’re going to read this one, I highly recommend signing up for Atwater’s mailing list so you can grab the short story The Latch Key. Some of the stuff mentioned in this book is related to it, so it’s definitely worth reading.
Longshadow follows Abigail, a magician and the daughter of Lord Sorcier, who is clearly following in her parent’s footsteps. When young ladies start mysteriously dying, Elias thinks it must be related to Lord Longshadow. To protect Abigail and her younger brother, he tries to send them back to the faerie realm. But when they refuse to go, Abigail decides to look into the case herself. Fortunately, she’s not the only person in London looking to solve this case. She runs into Mercy, a street-rat and self-taught magician who can see and talk to ghosts. At first, they butt heads, but they find they both need each other and that soon they might fall in love too.
This was probably the slowest book in the trilogy for me, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I’m not sure what it is about this book that just made it easier for me to put down, but I was a little disappointed by that. I still loved it in the end, and I’d recommend it just as hard as any of the other books in this series. I just thought that it would be my favourite and it wasn’t.
The queerness in this book was wonderful. It presents as sapphic, but something happens at the end that suggests that Mercy is either non-binary or trans. I’m happy with either of those possibilities, and it added something special to this book. Abigail and Mercy’s relationship was honestly adorable, and the ending made me smile a lot. I love the idea of their little life living in a cottage together in the end as they travel and help others. Perfection.
My favourite thing about the book was the found-family aspect. Neither Abigail nor Hugh are related to their parents or each other by blood, but they were so close. I love reading about a good sibling relationship, and Hugh was so cute. What a good boy. His ending made me happy too.
Overall this entire series was 5 stars. I adored it so much, and you should all pick these books up soon!