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Reviewed by:
  • Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe
  • Fiona Hartley-Kroeger
Cohoe, Samantha Bright Ruined Things. Wednesday/St. Martin’s, 2021 [352p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781250768841 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781250768858 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 7-10

Eighteen-year-old Mae has lived all her life on an island dominated by the wealthy, powerful Prosper family, whose control of the island’s spirits gives them access to aether, a magical, profitable energy source. Mae has been secretly in love with the [End Page 52] black sheep of the family, Miles, for years, but before she knows it, she’s engaged to the embittered heir, Ivo. When an aether spirit turns up dead right before the Prospers’ annual gala, Mae has to choose between conflicting impulses about whom to trust and how far her ambitions reach. Sheltered and restless, intensely curious about the outside world in the Jazz Age, Mae is part Miranda, part Caliban in this reworking of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She isn’t always likable as her desires war with her habitual subservience and growing awareness of the Prospers’ abuses, but she shouldn’t have to be. Mae isn’t a plucky heroine but a hungry young woman realizing that, exploited though she is, she benefits from a system of colonial oppression. Cohoe (A Golden Fury, BCCB 10/20) ably combines a postcolonial reading of The Tempest with the literary tradition of edgy, electric aristocrats and outsiders in London’s 1920s social scene (à la Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh). This will appeal to a broad audience, from fans of Shakespeare to Lockhart’s We Were Liars (BCCB 6/14) to Cooper’s Montmaray Diaries series.



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pp. 52-53
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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