Book Review: Esme


Esme is the fourth book in Marie Piper’s Maidens & Monsters series, and definitely one of the best. I’m still a bit married to Christine, but I think it’s because I adore Eric so damn much. No disrespect to Quincy here, Eric just had me at “hello,” and I’m not ready to give up on him yet. Even if that means the scrappy and cunning Christine will place me directly in her crosshairs. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Enough of my book boyfriends.

This one is a retelling of (have you guessed it?) The Hunchback of Notre Dame, all the way down to a disfigured man with a heart of gold ringing the church bells.

When we open, Meg’s back in town to do a performance at Opal Hall—and she hires Esme to be her assistant, which includes fixing her dresses, and coming out on stage dressed as a gypsy to hand Meg props and wrangle a goat. Because all good stage shows must include goats. In fact, there are not enough goats on Broadway, if you ask me. But I digress. (As an aside, I don’t remember Esme actually fixing any of the dresses. She spent more time as a goat wrangler. But what a resume padder: tavern waitress, ******** [edited because you can’t know about that without reading the book, but it’s important], part-time stage hand, part-time seamstress, and goat wrangler. Her career possibilities are plentiful.

Unfortunately for Esme (or maybe in the grand scheme of things, fortunately), her turn on the stage has turned her into an object of certain cops’ affections. Which is where Quincy comes in, and kicks some serious ass. Because of course he does.

Because finally, as I’ve been griping about since Christine, we get another romance. It’s interesting to see Esme come into her own in so many different ways in this book. She really isn’t like the other girls in so many ways, and I think the way she matured in this book is just another one of them.

I appreciate that. Her woe-is-me bit went on a bit too long, but when she finally decided to take the bull by the horns (thank you, Meg and Count Dalca for that), I really liked her. When she was all like, “eff this ish, I’m gonna sleep with you, I don’t care if it’s proper and we’re on a bed made of straw,” I was like, “You go girl.”

I mentioned some Mean Girls level shit in Lucy, and there’s some here too. In fact, I have a theory about a certain character that… yeah, the girl is totally fronting. (I have been wrong before. But these are girl power books and dammit, if she isn’t totally fronting for an agenda all her own, then I fail on reading characters.) I’m not saying who, but when you read this book, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

A lot (and I mean a lot) of the mystery of the Mapleton massacre is revealed in this one. (Might I add, there’s a whole hell of a lot of crazy too.) So I’ll be interested to see what new secrets we uncover with Elizabeth in April.

Once again… this one gave me the most hellacious book hangover. I started it at 9:30 at night. Told myself I’d read for an hour. An hour came and went. Then another one. Then I screwed around on Facebook for a little while, because that’s how I roll, and when my husband came to bed I was still reading, ticking him off because I wasn’t doing a good job of concealing the backlight on my Kindle. But I was not going to bed till it was done. I mean, come on, it’s only work. Who needs sleep beforehand, am I right?

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