Book Review

Ten Thousand Stitches

Ten Thousand Stitches

  • Author: Olivia Atwater
  • Genre: Fantasy/Romance
  • Publication Date: July 19, 2022
  • Publisher: Orbit 
  • Series: Regency Faerie Tales #2

Thank you to Orbit for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: verbal abuse, threat of violence

Regency housemaid Euphemia Reeves has acquired a faerie godfather. Unfortunately, he has no idea what he’s doing. 

Effie has most inconveniently fallen in love with the dashing Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke. There’s only one problem: Effie is a housemaid, and a housemaid cannot marry a gentleman. It seems that Effie is out of luck, until she stumbles into the faerie realm of Lord Blackthorn, who is only too eager to help her win Mr. Ashbrooke’s heart. All he asks in return is that Effie sew ten thousand stitches into his favorite jacket.

Effie has heard rumors about what happens to those who accept magical bargains. But life as a maid at Hartfield is so awful that she is willing to risk even her immortal soul for a chance at something better. Now she has one hundred days—and ten thousand stitches—to make Mr. Ashbrooke fall in love and propose…if Lord Blackthorn doesn’t wreck things by accident, that is. For Effie’s greatest obstacle might well be Lord Blackthorn’s overwhelmingly good intentions.

I had the distinct pleasure of discovering this lovely and quirky series recently, and was thrilled to start the second book right away. These book are quick, light, and fluffy reads, incorporating the best aspects of both Regency romance and fantasy, with a smattering of cutting social commentary and the most charming characters that I couldn’t help but love.

Effie, our main character, isn’t a typical Regency romance heroine—she’s a housemaid. As a member of the working class, she doesn’t have time for picnics and courting and balls and flirting. She’s busy cleaning and doing chores and other behind the scenes work, as she’s being run ragged by her awfully demanding employer. An employer who doesn’t view household staff as actual people but more like inanimate objects that simply exist in the house, such as furniture, or wallpaper. 

“As always, she was entirely beneath their notice. A maid at work, Effie thought, could not eavesdrop … because she was not a person.”

I could completely understand why Effie was so angry, and would have been more surprised if she was a docile, understanding, and accepting character. Obviously, her situational circumstances are so bad that she’s willing to do anything, including making a deal with a faerie even though she knows it is likely to be a dangerous proposition with negative consequences. Fortunately, things aren’t exactly as they seem.

Lord Blackthorn, the faerie in question, might be the only faerie who actually seems to want a soul. He’s actually trying to help Effie achieve her goal so she can win their bet, but his attempts only seem to push her farther away from winning. And while he isn’t malicious, his meddling isn’t exactly helpful, yet he stole my heart fully. I couldn’t help but love his character.

“‘Lord Blackthorn’s not wicked at all, or at least not on purpose. I think it’s somethin’ to do with Blackthorn — with the realm, I mean. It’s always growin’ an’ tryin’ to be somethin’ it wasn’t just yesterday. I think it convinced Lord Blackthorn to grow too, an’ now he’s almost become something entirely different.’”

I loved watching him grow as a person, as well as seeing Effie grow into who she really was. There’s an amazing dynamic between Effie and her best friend, Lydia, who is also a servant at Hartfield. Things aren’t easy where they live and work, but they manage to make the best of it on a daily basis, both individually and together, often enlisting the rest of the staff as well, despite the majority of the staff being at odds with each other. 

There was very much a sense of unionization throughout the story, with an emphasis on getting people to stop infighting and working together instead to create bigger changes that might be able to help them all. I loved the feeling of social justice that permeated the story, which wouldn’t have been possible if it stuck to the traditional Regency romance format involving people of society. However, the only aspect of the story that fell short for me was the way that the characters were painted in broad strokes, with the upper classes painted as universally awful, and the servants painted as angry but universally good-hearted and hard working. I guess that is to be expected from faerie tales, so it didn’t impact my rating too deeply, especially since this is generally a light-hearted read that doesn’t get in-depth into social justice. However, this is a wonderful series, and I’m especially excited for the next book in the series, which is a queer love story!!

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