A few weeks ago I came across a free preview of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant and was so excited for this story that I wrote about the preview pages. Well, now I have read the whole book and will be discussing it in this post. The author says in the notes at the end of the book how much she loved the original book and musical of Les Misérables and it really shows in the book. Additionally, she says part of the reason for writing this book is because Eponine deserved so much more….I could not agree more.
The key to understanding this retelling of Les Misérables is that the Revolution failed and many of the Paris’s poor have formed into guilds. The guilds have a ruling body called the Court of Miracles. Each guild has one guild lord that has a seat at the head of the Court of Miracles and the Lords are responsible for upholding the laws of the Court. This will be a key point throughout the entire story.
Introduction to Eponine
The book opens with Eponine as a young girl and her sister Azelma has been acting strange for a few days. Then one day Azelma tells Eponine (Nina) to go fetch their friend Femi. Turns out Azelma knows she is about to be sold to the Lord of Flesh, known as the Tiger. Because she cannot escape this horrible fate the best she can do is to make sure her beloved sister does not eventually have to follow her. So Azelma arranges for Femi to sneak Nina out of their fathers tavern and get her admitted to the Guild of Thieves. Once Nina is a member of the Guild of Thieves the Tiger cannot take her and force her to become a prostitute.
At first Nina does not understand what is happening with her sister but when she does Nina vows to find a way to set her sister free. She becomes know at the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild and learns to sneak in and out of places. Nina plans to use these skills to locate her sister and break her free. This fairly straight forward approach does not work. When Nina goes to get her sister she finds Azelma addicted to opimum and she will not come away. Azelma keeps saying “they broke his hands” and forces Nina to leave. Turns out Femi tried to break Azelma out already and the Tiger broke his hands as punishment.
Femi tells Nina she was foolish to think she could set her sister free on her own but they hatch a plan to find something that the Tiger wants more and bargain for Azelma’s freedom. Enter Cosette. Like the original story Cosette is left with Nina’s family by her mother who never comes back. This book does not get into the whole background of Cosette’s mother, we just know she left her child and never returned.
Introduction to Cosette
Cosette is a very pretty child and the original plan was to make the Tiger want to own Cosette enough that he will give Nina her sister back. But when push comes to shove, Nina just cannot sacrifice Cosette in this way. Now the Tiger does want her and Nina must find a way to keep her safe. It is a gut wrenching decision because she loves her sister but she loves Cosette enough to not want to condemn her to a horrible life…death would have been kinder.
The rest of the story revolves around Nina getting Cosette into a Guild that will protect her from the Tiger. She basically uses the same idea her sister Azelma did. If Cosette is in a Guild then the law that governs The Court of Miracles says no other Guild can harm her. The problem is the Lord of Flesh things he is above the law and will stop at nothing to get Cosette; even after she is accepted into the Guild of Beggars (known as Ghosts).
As we move through the story we see other beloved Les Misérables characters but in new roles. Jean val Jean belongs to the Guild of Letters and is a master spy; like the original book he will be key to protecting Cosette. Javert is still a police officer but in this retelling is a woman. The students of the University still work to begin a Revolution but in this case it is a New Revolution. The interesting change is that they become allies of Nina. She will help them with their Revolution and they will help her with her plan to take out the Tiger once and for all.
The story was very fund to read and it did bring in some elements of the original book and the musical. At one point the author uses some of the lyrics form the song A Little Fall of Rain. It took me until the next day to remember how the song was used in the original as compared to this version but once I did it was a nice nod to the musical. I set up the story for you but the rest of the details are for you to enjoy. I hope you read the book and share your thoughts.