Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical
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A reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, "The General" to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father's townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off. 

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn't seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself. 

Partially, it was that the Kingfisher was small enough to be out of the mind and dark enough to slip into; there were faces of all colors on the dance floor and sometimes two men cheek to cheek, and she wanted a place that could keep secrets.

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. I remember reading the preview over at Amazon when I'd first heard about it - early last year - and being hooked. I quickly bought it, and it sat on my shelf for ages.

Even after starting it, I didn't really know what to make of this book. For one, it's a lot less plot driven than what I'm used to. It's really more 'finding yourself' - or, in this case, escaping an emotionally absent (I would even say abusive) father.

The girls are what really carries the story. They are all different and they argue and bicker and, sometimes even hate each other. But, they are sisters, and I'm pretty sure they'd do anything for the others.

This is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and I will admit, beyond the basics, I didn't know anything about that story. However, what I didn't want to see is what happens in fairytales; the girls get rescued by men.

She suspected that some strange emancipation had just been forced on all of them and that whatever happened now, for once, would be of their own making.

I really needn't have worried because there most certainly is not twelve princes waiting to sweep these ladies off their feet.

I will say though, that this was, personally, not and easy story to read. I like more lighthearted reads. Ones that aren't so…gloomy all the time. This book definitely the sort to suck me in, but all the things these girls go through really took a lot out of me emotionally.

For recent history, I love the Prohibition era. There's always been something about it that catches my imagination and I really feel that this book did a nice ob with that. It was also a lot of fun because this is a totally different setting for a retelling. Fantasy? Sci-fi? Contemporary? Been there, done that. This was unique.

I'm also pretty sure I've never read a book about this era that wasn't written in the era.

All in all, this was a very different read for me, but I enjoyed it. Even if a part of me wished the story had been a bit fluffier, it was still a good read.

If I did half stars (which I don't and plan to never start) this would be a 3.5 - so because I'm feeling generous, I'll round up.