The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant is a retelling unlike any other I’ve ever read.
Thanks to NetGalley and Alfred A. Knopf Books for the ARC of The Court of Miracles that I received. The Court of Miracles is set to publish June 2nd, 2020.
I should start off this review by saying that I’d never read, watched, or even remotely knew what Les Miserables was about before reading The Court of Miracles.
In fact, I had no interest at all in watching it.
My wife had begged me for years to watch Les Miserables, and for years I put it off.
Because I’m not a huge musical person, and despite all the big name actors and actresses, there was nothing about Les Miserables that I found intriguing.
Enter The Court of Miracles.
The premise of the book is what gripped me. I am a sucker for a good thief story, and The Court of Miracles promised that.
The forward of the novel was written by VP and Publishing Director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, Melanie Nolan. She said it was a gripping tale that captured her from the very beginning and she hoped I would have as magical a journey as she did.
Oh, how right she was.
The Court of Miracles Review
There’s not a page of The Court of Miracles that isn’t filled with excitement, adventure, intrigue, or backstabbing.
While I hadn’t watched Les Miserables before beginning this book, I certainly had by the time I was done.
I read the first 70% of The Court of Miracles in under 24 hours.
And probably would have completed the whole book in the same time frame is not for the brief pause I took to actually watch Les Miserables.
I was curious to see just how much of the original story was in this book.
Usually when a book touts that it’s a retelling, I think of something like Throne of Glass. That book claimed to be a Cinderella retelling if only Cinderella were an assassin.
Throne of Glass resembles nothing of Cinderella except the vaguest of possible overlaps.
How is Court of Miracles similar?
The Court of Miracles is not so much a retelling as it is a rewriting of the original story by Victor Hugo, but from a different perspective (and a different outcome).
You’ll recognize many familiar names such as Jean Valjean (who takes a major backseat in The Court of Miracles), Inspector Jalvert (who is a woman now), Cosette, Thenardier, and of course Eponine–or Nina for our story.
The French Revolution is still the backdrop, Jean Valjean is still an escaped prisoner, Jalvert is still hunting him, Eponine is still the daughter of Thenardier.
But that’s probably about where the similarities end.
How is it different?
At the beginning of The Court of Miracles, Melanie Nolan said she felt that Eponine got the short end of the stick in the original novel by Victor Hugo.
After watching Les Miserables, I would agree.
But this is Eponine’s tale, rewritten to make her the hero, her the center of attention, her the amazingly strong woman she could have been.
The Court of Miracles is written in first person and we never leave Nina’s POV. She is driven by love, but not her love for Marius. Marius isn’t even in this book.
No, Nina is driven by first her love for her sister, and secondly her love for Ettie (Cosette).
The Court of Miracles is not about Jean Valjean’s life or really about the city itself, but more about Cour des miracles. Otherwise known as the slum districts of Paris.
What is the Court of Miracles?
The Court of Miracles is a secret society of nine guilds. I don’t really remember them all, but the main ones of note are the Thieves Guild, the Assassin’s Guild, the Beggar’s Guild, and the Flesh Guild.
Nina quickly becomes a part of the Thieves guild, like her father Thenardier.
Thenardier is not the silly buffoon he is in Les Miserables. No, he’s a conniving, heartless despot that’s willing to sell one of his daughters for some extra coin. He would willfully bring harm to either one of them if it were beneficial for him to do so.
Nina leaves him behind to make the Thieves Guild her home, and what a good thief she is.
There’s nowhere Nina can’t go, and no locked door she can’t get out of.
After her sister is sold to the ruthless Lord of the Flesh Guild, The Tiger, she spends the rest of the book trying to save her sister. And put an end to his iron grip that he has on the whole Court of Miracles.
Along the way, we bump into Jean Valjean, who happens to be a member of one of the guilds in this story. He helps at different points in the story, and some major events from Les Miserables still occur in The Court of Miracles.
Fans of the original tale will squeal with glee at these Easter eggs tucked into the story.
Make no mistake, The Court of Miracles is it’s own tale that really has nothing to do with Les Miserables.
It shares some characters, it shares some overarching events, but the tale is new, and just because you know what happens in Les Miserables does not mean it will happen in The Court of Miracles the same way.
I found the story to be enchanting with only a few minor bumps along the way.
At times, Nina finds herself in the palace of the King and Queen of France. And while she’s there, just about every policeman, servant, and even the Royals themselves gullibly believe everything Nina has to say.
Nina should have been arrested many times over and met with suspicion far more often than she is. And that everyone else around Nina could be so stupid rubbed me the wrong way at times, but did little to diminish the unfolding story.
Whether you’re a fan of Les Miserables or not, The Court of Miracles is sure to be a gem you won’t want to miss.
Looking for more great book reviews?
Check out my review of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim.