Thursday 25 August 2022

Book Review (Blog Tour) | Beguiled by Cyla Panin

Publication Date: 23rd August 2022 by Amulet Books
Format: Netgalley ARC
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

Content warnings: Mild self-harm, emotional abuse, gaslighting.

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Ella is a 17-year-old weaver whose entire livelihood depends on her loom. She dreams of opening her own shop, but when her father died in debtor’s prison, she had to support herself by taking whatever clients she could get. In order to buy her supplies she goes into debt of her own, and when her loom breaks, Ella realizes she needs more help than a repairperson can give her. She, like everyone, has heard about the old washerwoman spirit called the Bean-Nighe who will grant any one wish—for a price.
But Ella is desperate, so she asks the Bean-Nighe to fix her loom. And it works. The loom is fixed, and she's creating beautiful pieces she could have never imagined before. All she has to do is feed the loom a drop of blood each time she weaves—a small price to pay for such magnificent silks. And when she brings two bolts to a rich client, she meets a mysterious young man named Callum and bargains for an invitation to his exclusive party. At that party, he's so mesmerized by her talent, he offers Ella a place to live and patronage for her art. It seems like Ella's fortune is finally turning for the better . . . until she begins to notice the loom taking more from her than she offered.

As she becomes entangled in the lives of the city’s rich, swept into Callum's allure, and trapped by the Bean-Nighe’s magic, Ella must figure out a way to secure her future while she still has a future at all.


My Thoughts

"Did the sun mind sharing the sky with the moon? Did they ever spar over who could shine brighter? Or maybe the sun and the moon worried about the stars outdazzling them."

I've been craving a fairytale-esque retelling and Beguiled certainly hit that spot. Ella is a weaver who finds herself trapped in debt she can't hope to repay and with a broken loom; her last hope is to pray to the Bean-Nighe, a mythical creature that grants wishes, to aid her. Suddenly Ella is weaving magical creations and is taken under the wing of a charming young man but as in every fairytale, you must be careful what you wish for.       

I really liked the premise of the story, I hadn't heard of the Bean-Nighe story before, it's a little reminiscent of the Rumpelstiltskin tale, and I enjoyed this foray into Celtic folklore. I always enjoy stories that take lesser known folk tales and weave them into something unique, giving them a wider audience. The plot is set up nicely and whilst there was a slight lull in the middle, by the last third the pacing really picks up and I did find myself unable to put it down. 

I loved Ella's character. It's no secret I like a determined, strong-minded MC and Ella was fiercely independent in her pursuit of a better life for herself. Her sacrifices to make her dream come true may seem naïve but you can't help but want her to succeed because of her resolve. Ella also grows in character a lot throughout the book, she comes to terms with her choices and faces the consequences head on.  

The writing is captivating, it has that fairytale quality to it whilst also feeling fresh. Panin writes these characters and their world so well, they know how to enchant their audience and create a enthralling story of morals and magic. 

I did find the middle of the story a little slow. I also thought that the overall arc of the storyline was very obvious so my intrigue suffered slightly too. I would have also liked the Bean-Nighe to have played a more central role. 

Saying that this is a enchanting story that blends fantasy and folklore really well. With strong female characters and a feminist twist, it questions what you'd be willing to sacrifice in order to get your hearts desires and enforces that everything comes with a price. 

Cyla Panin is an MG, YA and Adult Author who prefers to look at the world through a dusting of magic. 
After spending most of her childhood wanting to escape into the wonderful worlds her favourite authors created, she’s now using her own words to craft magical places. When not writing, Cyla can be found playing dinosaurs with her two young boys, watching swashbuckling and/or period TV shows with her husband, and, of course, reading. 

Her YA debut, STALKING SHADOWS will be out with Amulet, Abrams Fall 2021. She is represented by Chloe Seager of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV, and Film Agency.

I received an ARC copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes included in this review are subject to change. Massive thank you to Amulet Books for providing me with a review copy. A huge thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for letting me take part in the blog tour. 

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