Meg Townsend has enough problems in her life. She already has her father to look after, who has never been the same since he returned from the Civil War. She already has her sister Sylvie who disagrees strongly with Meg over their father. She already has a reporter from the Chicago Tribune nosing around whose intentions she has yet to discern.
Then the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago and burns everything to the ground. And her father disappears into it.
The same night, their oldest friend is murdered.
And it’s up to Meg to rebuild her world with hands so badly wounded they may never create again.
Oh. My. Goodness. This book. The characters are so deep! I was amazed by the layers she managed to give to every member of the Townsend family—Meg, who just wants her father back the way he was and her undying loyalty to him, Sylvie, who desperately needs to feel loved and is more prone to action and the logic of things, and even Stephen and the ache that lies deep in his confused mind.
Better yet, the way she brought them all into conflict and showed that in such a real way left me astounded. While I tended to relate to Sylvie more than Meg (other than one very irrational thing Sylvie did that I can’t mention here because of spoilers), I was able to see the good and the bad in each of their viewpoints and even wound up rooting for Stephen at the end.
The plot kept me guessing right up until the end. Halfway through, I was sure I had it figured out, but then the last third made me second guess all my assumptions. The climax was brilliant, with equally brilliant symbolism woven in. Did not disappoint in the least.
Also, I think I could live at Corner Books and More. Just saying.
Veiled in Smoke will easily make my list of best reads for 2021. I highly recommend this first book in The Windy City Saga series.
Imagine watching every one of your seven brothers—from the oldest down to the youngest ten year old—being marched away from your castle by the king’s guards. On charges of treason, reports the captain.
You know better than anyone that none of them so much as dared of treason. That it’s all a ploy by your paranoid stepmother to get that out from under foot so she can seize the inheritance.
But the guards won’t listen.
Welcome to the world of Lady Delia. And she’s going to do something about it. She’s going to go to London under the guise of a maid, team up with the very captain that arrested her brothers, and break them out.
She’s going to prove her brothers innocent.
But who can she trust?
Melanie Dickerson’s books are the perfect thing when I want a simple story to just enjoy. The fairy tale she based this one off of—the Seven Swans—was unfamiliar to me, so more of the plot twists came as a surprise.
She did a fantastic job with the seven brothers—even though she was juggling so many side characters, each one had a distinct personality and I kept track of them easily. (Speaking of those distinct personalities, I hope we’re to see some more of those pop up in later books . . . Edwin, anyone?)
Delia seemed to be just a bit too trusting to me. Maybe that was supposed to be her character flaw. On one hand, she’d make a fantastic internal speech about how she was going to be strong and save her brothers and be careful who she trusted. Then she’d go and tell details of the plot to someone who was obviously untrustworthy. It just didn’t seem to quite match up. She also made some pretty harsh accusations towards people who weren’t as trusting . . . and as someone who isn’t as trusting in real life, I had a hard time relating to her.
That being said, the plot had good tension. I kept turning the page, waiting to see if their plans would work, if Delia had trusted the wrong person, if they would get caught, what they would do if they did.
The story does an amazing job of illustrating the conflict of being in suffering. And had it left there, it would have stuck with me. But the final chapter contains a weird monologue about why God does what He does by a character who had only a passing mention in the second chapter. I think the point would have gotten across if she had simply let the story tell it, instead of Mistress Wattlebrook.
All that being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Court of Swans for a relaxing evening read.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!