Book Reviews

DNF Review — Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley


Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley.

My copy: Amulet Books (ABRAMS Kids), January 2016. Egalley, 356 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Amulet Books!



Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

This richly conceived, haunting fantasy draws on the early writings of this most famous literary family to explore the deathless bonds between sisters and brothers, between writers and their creations.

This is a DNF review. I quit at 49%.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow is an historical fantasy about the four Bronte siblings: Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell. I’ll be totally honest and say, 1) I haven’t read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, and 2) I didn’t know there were two more Bronte siblings. Don’t hate on me, I’m just terrible at reading classics.

I was initially super excited (like, you cannot BELIEVE how excited I was) when I found out Lena Coakley was coming out with a new book, and one that sounded awesome at that. I read Lena’s Witchlanders a number of years ago, and it remains one of the most beautiful and seriously underrated fantasy novels I have ever read, and I pimp the heck out of it on the blog whenever I can. (*Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.* Guys, go read Witchlanders. It’s amazing.) So I was ecstatic when I was approved for an egalley on NetGalley.

During a night of babysitting back at the end of January, I read literally half of the book. And… let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting.

In Worlds of Ink and Shadow, the teenage Bronte siblings, all imaginative, creative artists and writers, can jump into their fantasy world called Verdopolis, where they are the story masters, and can do anything and make anything happen. Someone wants a different dress? Boom, wearing new dress. Someone wants Lady So-and-so to be cheating on her husband? Boom, she’s cheating on her husband — and her hubby ain’t too pleased with that. These sorts of God-like decisions that the Brontes make start out fun — but then something happens and it becomes harder for them to change the course of their story they’re trapped in.

It all sounds amazing, right? Incredibly original, huh? Well, the big problem I had with Worlds of Ink and Shadow were the characters and the confusing way the plot was handled. The transitions between the real world and the imaginary world were a bit muddled, and because the Brontes could change the story like that, sometimes drastically, events sometimes felt oddly out of place and just plain silly.

In terms of characters, I didn’t find myself very attached to any of them. Branwell I kind of liked, despite his somewhat arrogant demeanor, but Charlotte, Emily, and Anne didn’t really endear themselves to me. Each sibling had their own distinct personality, but I just wasn’t drawn to any of them, which was somewhat disappointing.

There’s not much else I can say about this book because it’s been more than a month since I read it… I don’t think I’ll be pushing my way through the latter half of the book, despite my love for Lena Coakley. Worlds of Ink and Shadow was a sad miss for me. ♦

Have you read Worlds of Ink and Shadow?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book you’ve read about imaginative siblings who go on adventures?
Comment below letting me know!
And, as always, happy reading!

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5 thoughts on “DNF Review — Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

  1. Awh, no! I’m sad you didn’t like this one, especially since you had been looking forward to it!

    I knew of Anne Bronte, but I didn’t know there was a dude Bronte! What even? I am totally going to Google him after I finish this comment XD

    The premise of this sounds all kinds of amazing, but it kind of sounds like the execution fell a bit flat. I think I’d still be interested in reading it, because I do like the sound of the creative world and the Bronte siblings making life altering decisions. But if I ever WILL read it is another thing entirely. So many books, so little time, right? D:

    I haven’t really read a YA book about siblings, but I think we should definitely have more. I feel like sibling relationships are pushed to the side in favour of romantic ones far too often.

    Lovely review, Mallory! ❤


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