Worlds of Ink and Shadow ( A Novel of the Brontes) by Lena Coakley

by Lena Coakley
on January 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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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.

From the Bronte Parsonage Museum


This is the kind of book that you want to plan a whole photo shoot for. Isn’t the cover fabulous!? Of course, the title of the book is pretty fabulous as well.

And that, my friends, is exactly why I went into this novel with a little trepidation.

Would the story be equally amazing, creating a trinity of bookish brilliance?

I should know better than to ask so much from books with beautiful covers.

While I was not blown away by the story, I was continually intrigued by it. I enjoyed what I learned about the Brontes, and I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of their writing.

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I love the writing of the Bronte sisters. I also love reading novels set in the nineteenth century, and I have read many, so the author had her work cut out for her. I just did not adore this novel as much as I had hoped I would. I think the reason for this was mostly my fault. Reading fantasy is always a challenge for me. I found it a little difficult to keep up with the characters within the Brontes’ created worlds.

Despite my too high expectations, this book was a lot of fun. It was filled with darkness, magic, and mayhem. Sibling rivalries and deceptions abound within the walls and imaginary worlds of the Brontes’ home. Worlds of Ink and Shadow reminded me of Jumanji or Night at the Museum in some aspects.

Oh! And there is a Bronte brother! This book introduced me to Bramwell, the brother to the Bronte sisters that I did not even know existed. According to the author’s book, he was equally as creative as his female siblings.

Click on the picture to be redirected to an interesting article in Emily Bronte from The Paris Review.


The plot was slow-moving, reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Unlike these novels, however, there is no passionate and forbidden love story. There is a thread of romantic feelings between two characters in the novel, that mirrors Heathcliff and Catherine’s in Wuthering Heights, but nothing that is ever developed to capacity.

This novel is a window into the psyches and daily lives that shaped the writing of the Brontes. The author shows how, despite their creative talents and impulses, the Brontes were forced to create alternate lives for themselves, with ink and paper, to escape the oppressive culture that only provided them with two narratives to live their lives by: become a governess spinster or marry into the cult of domesticity. While the Bronte siblings had a relatively free and rich life within their home, the real-world that they were aging into would not have allowed them the same freedoms. It is no wonder that they created such dark and magical parallel lives. The world beyond their hearth would not be as accommodating to their talents and temperaments.

To Walk Invisble: The Bronte Sisters ( A Masterpiece Original series)

The author did a wonderful job drawing from the thematic material of each Bronte sisters’ writing to shape the Gothic fantasy world that occupied and controlled the lives of the Bronte family within her novel. Themes of despair, love, loss, religion, and gendered oppression are all touched upon. The critique of women’s roles and expectations in nineteenth century England was, in fact, the most compelling part of the novel for me. Worlds of Ink and Shadow gives twenty-first century readers a glimpse into the stark reality for women during the Brontes’ lifetime. The fact that any of them found the opportunity to put pen to paper was an anomaly all its own.

Did you read Worlds of Ink and Shadow? Please leave a comment, and let me know what you thought!

And Just For FUN:

Here is a fantastic and informative promo video for the novel, narrated by the author herself:

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana MatherHow to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26, 2016
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Ummmm….An actual relative of COTTON FRIGGIN’ MATHER wrote a book about witches. How am I not going to read and like this book?!?!

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Cotton Mather

When I started Adriana Mather’s debut novel, How to Hang a Witch, I knew I was in for a spooky-good time. My anticipation was met, and then some, by the end of the novel. Besides being historically on point, this book was a magical mash-up of some of my favorite 90s and 00’s films.

Ghost+ The Craft+ Mean Girls+The Crucible= A unique YA novel that entertains and educates to the beat of its own drum.

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The Craft 1996 film

When Samantha Mather moves back to her ancestral family’s hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, old family feuds and ghostly apparitions are conjured, drawing Samantha into the dark history of her family’s past. As a descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather, Samantha immediately becomes a person of interest at school for the local ‘mean girls coven’, and she is swept up in a storm of rumors, bullying, hauntings, and black magic.

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Oh, and there just might be a peculiar love triangle…or quadrilateral that fits itself into the story.

I loved the setting of this book. The creepy old house, with creaking stairs and A SECRET LIBRARY, absolutely seduced me from the beginning of the book.

The antagonists in the story (there are a handful of them) are the kind you love to hate, and I was left guessing until the very end about who was truly evil and vengeful, and who was just an insecure bully.

Samantha was a smart and strong MC, and I was equally torn between the two romantic interests that complicate her life beyond witchcraft.

This book was a fast read for me because I had a hard time putting it down. Besides the fact that I love all things witches, I really enjoyed the snippets of historical insight that Mather provides in the novel, straight out of her own, personal family history.

Image result for on witchcraft cotton mather

I will say that there were times when this book felt schizophrenic. It was almost as if the author could not decided what type of creepy story she wanted to write. In the end, I decided to roll with it. It was fun, entertaining, and unique because of the author’s lineage.

Have you read How to Hang a Witch? What did you think?!

And Just for FUN:

A home video of some of the Witch Trial memorial sites introduced by a tour guide:

An interesting student-made documentary about the tourism and spectacle that surround the Witch Trials:

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