why i wanted to read it: because the cover appealed to me, the letters at the beginning intrigued me, and the story sounded like it might be cool. and for erin’s book challenge, it meets the published in ‘seventeen category. but mostly it’s because i dig the title.

what i liked: scarlett’s feelings came in colors even brighter than usual. the urgent red of burning coals. the eager green of new grass buds. the frenzied yellow of a flapping bird’s feathers (page 12).

“lovely seeing you, scarlett.” julian smiled, as cool and seductive as a slice of shade in the hot season.

scarlett knew the polite response would be something along the lines of “good to see you, too.” but all she could think about were his hands, still coiled around tella’s periwinkle skirts, playing with the tassels on her bustle, as if she were a parcel he couldn’t wait to unwrap.

julian had only been on the isle of trisda about a month. when he’d swaggered off his ship, tall and handsome, with golden-brown skin, he’d drawn almost every woman’s eye. even scarlett’s head had turned briefly, but she’d known better than to look any longer (page 13).

“i think you’ve forgotten how to live, and your sister is trying to remind you,” julian went on. “but if all you want is safety, i’ll take you back” (page 49).

inside the house, violin music, richer than the darkest chocolate, started playing. it seeped outside and whispered to scarlett as julian’s smile turned seductive, all shameless curves and immoral promises. an invitation to places that proper young ladies didn’t think about, let alone visit. scarlett didn’t want to imagine what sorts of things this smile had convinced other girls to do (page 87).

scarlett broke off as a man in cheap velveteen pants and a brown bowler hat kicked a piece of stained glass. something glittery and red sparkled beneath it.

“no! you can’t take those.” scarlett lunged toward the man, but the moment he saw her interest, his own ignited into something stronger. he snatched the precious earrings from the floor and bolted to the door. 

she ran after him, but he was quick and her arms were burdened. she was only halfway down the hall when he made it to the rickety stairs.

“here, let me hold those.” the pregnant girl was beside her in the hall. “i’ll be right here when you get back,” she promised. 

scarlett didn’t want to let go of what she’d gathered, but she really couldn’t lose those earrings. dropping her things in the girl’s open arms, scarlett clutched the bottom of her snowy skirt and tried to catch up with the man… outside, the world was nightfall and daybreak all at once… the man had disappeared.

it shouldn’t have mattered. they were only earrings. but they weren’t only earrings. they were scarlets.

scarlet stones for scarlett, her mother had said. a final present before she had left… they were a piece of her mother, and a reminder that governor dragna had once been a different man (pages 126-127).

what sucked: sometimes the writing’s really cheesy. it aims for sweet and strives to be chock full of imagery and to further the sense of wonder the story has, but sometimes it’s more syrupy and saccharine than sweet.

having said that: i dig the story. it’s fantastical and clever and complex… made me think a little bit of the theatrics and exploits of logan and his friends in gilmore girls. i like scarlett and julian a lot. so much so that i’ll read this again. the ending’s pretty badass, though maybe there’s some predictability to it. it’s four hundred pages, and usually i cringe when authors take that long to tell a story, but i didn’t mind it here. i’d like more of this, please.

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