For once, I think the pitch from the blurb is actually quite accurate. Landry Park is all high society, fancy gowns, lavish balls, status, and abuse of the peasant class. The high society stuff was my favorite part, I think, because, honestly, I have a lot of patience for ballroom drama and pretty dresses. I love that stuff.
Plus, Madeline Landry was a lot smarter than the usual YA dystopian heroine. She dreams of attending college before inheriting her family estate, and engages in intellectual pursuits. Madeline’s also not sure if she ever wants to marry, though her father says she doesn’t get a choice in the matter. Though Madeline is prone to flights of romantic fancy, she also never forgets about danger or the important political things that are going on. Because of this ability for Madeline to think on more than one thing at once, the romance doesn’t overpower the plot the way that often happens in dystopian romances.
A lot of the world building is a bit sketchy, but Hagen makes enough of an effort that I’m willing to roll with it for the most part. I won’t speak to the world building specifically, because there’s a reveal of more information at the end that would make any commentary I offer a bit misleading. However, I do want to praise the fact that Hagen didn’t draw the boundary lines for high society by race. The Gentry come from all sorts of racial backgrounds, and are mostly mixed race, though Madeline is a white girl herself, so far as I can tell. Hagen also included a gay character without making a big deal about it, which is another plus.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The romance, admittedly, wasn’t my favorite part. While I’m not opposed to the main ship, I did find the half-hearted love triangles frustrating. The competition for David’s affections initially makes sense, and I was okay with that, but by the end my patience for it had worn thin. Then, a completely unnecessary love triangle started for Madeline’s hand because David wasn’t honest. He had good reasons initially, but they were gone in plenty of time to prevent the drama from getting quite so out of hand.
Some Comments on the Audio Version:
Leslie Bellair’s narration is almost mechanical in its precision, but that really worked for me with Madeline’s character. Madeline has been raised to be perfect and to always give off the appearance of complete control. Bellair’s performance really drives that home, making Madeline feel like the sort of girl with a lot of book learning and polish, but not so much real life experience.
The Final Verdict:
Landry Park is an excellent choice for those who never tire of high society drama, so long as it involves fancy dresses, balls and games of whist.