Part one of a trilogy, The Court Of Miracles is set in a nefarious and lawless alternative Paris in the 1800s. Times are tough. The revolution to overthrow the monarchy has failed and crime and violence is prevalent. Seeing the city they love falling to pieces, Paris’ ‘wretched’ (made up of guilds such as thieves, beggars, assassins, smugglers and prostitutes) decide to create the Miracle Court by establishing their own laws and making a pact between each other to keep to their own and maintain a semblance of order.
That is until Nina joins the court, shaking up the – albeit rocky – truce between the vagabond factions. As a member of the Guild Of Thieves, she is bound not to interfere with another guild, but when the leader of the prostitution guild, the notorious ‘Tiger’ sets sights on Nina’s young, adopted sister Ettie, Nina decides to use her skills, wits and bravery to take apart the corrupt Miracle Court.
As a protagonist, Nina is fascinating – a brash, rude but likable thief. She’s a little like Dickens’ Artful Dodger… if Artful Dodger was a badass woman who you certainly wouldn’t want to consider herself at home as she’d certainly steal from you before she steps foot in the door. Author Kester Grant takes you on her journey at a fast, exciting pace, weaving you in and out of Nina’s story over the years as she navigates the perilous world of Paris’ criminal underbelly.
Even though this is a complex, alternate world with its very own myths and laws, Grant carefully constructs it with the use of beguiling stories, ensuring it’s not too overwhelming. In fact, you find yourself knowing Paris almost as well as Nina does, as we silently weave through its putrid streets and rooftops.
This is made all the easier with Nina’s degenerate associates who, though undoubtedly despicable, are enthralling nonetheless. From the charming and loyal assassin Montparnasse, to the Ghost Guild of the sick and destitute who are ugly on the outside (and…well… cannibals) but who are also the most ardent and steadfast friends Nina could wish for.
The Court Of Miracles is an engaging and entertaining read – luring you in like a thief in the night to view its wonders and then taking you on a dangerous adventure through this unpredictable city. Here the criminals can be wicked but loving and the royals can be kind but unscrupulous (you certainly wouldn’t, as Marie Antoinette once said, eat cake – it’s likely poisoned), but you wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Court Of Miracles and its lawless city has an appeal that you can’t help but get tangled up in – even if it could lead you straight to the guillotine.
The Court Of Miracles by Kester Grant is out now.