The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina's life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father's fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger--the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh--Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city's dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice--protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
Since then, she has gained some notoriety for her thievery. However, what truly drives her is getting her older sister back/free. Her sister was sold to the Tiger, the man who took over the Guild of the Sisters and made it into Flesh. He is ruthless and many of the Guild leaders are afraid of him. Nina's plot to get her sister back goes awry due to her own emotions, and she ends up running with a young girl, Ettie. In the process of figuring out how to keep Ettie away from the Tiger and how to get her sister out, Nina will encounter a new revolution, dangerous royalty, and much cruelty.
This is not a light story. As warnings, there is domestic abuse, forced prostitution, maimed children (for begging), starving, horrific deaths, and drug abuse.
What I loved: Nina completely captivated me from the start. She has had a really difficult life and maintains her humanity in a world where that is an impossible challenge. The plot is paced perfectly, gripping from the start and making it unputdownable. I also really loved the building of the criminal empires with rules and non-rules and questionable morality. We explore some of the Guilds a bit, and it was entirely fascinating.
I also really liked how Nina does not have a romance here. Her love for her sisters is paramount. There are a few potential romantic interests who seem to be interested in her, but Nina is focused on her goals and does not seem to get caught up in these (no matter how much Ettie wishes her to have romances). It made the story and Nina's drive that much stronger.
What left me wanting more: A small thing, but there were time jumps that I needed a bit more information to fully orient myself to. Each section leaps ahead by an amount of time, which varies. This may be corrected in the final version of the novel.
Final verdict: Lush, captivating, and filled with compelling characters, THE COURT OF MIRACLES is a beautifully crafted YA historical series. Highly recommend for fans of THE GILDED WOLVES, SIX OF CROWS, and/or SOMETHING DARK AND HOLY.