Monday 27 May 2024


Book review: Theatre of Glass and Shadows by Anne Corlett [blog tour]

I love fantastical novels that have a performative element to them, the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber being one of my all-time favourites. There's something about the combination of the heightened quality of the entertainment and the high stakes (often life-or-death) unfolding backstage that make for a thrilling reading experience that manages to be utterly unique and unexpected throughout. Theatre of Glass and Shadows by Anne Corlett is a prime example of why this combination of setting and storytelling work so well.  

About Theatre of Glass and Shadows

When Juliet's father passes away, she discovers that she was born in the elusive 'District'. In the alternative London at the heart of this novel, the Theatre District is a sectioned off part of the city that's always been beyond Juliet's grasp. It has its own rules and regulations, and there are rumours floating around that connect the District to some of the more dangerous sides of London. 

As a former ballet dancer, Juliet has longed to visit this mythical place where an immersive and imaginative show has been dazzling audiences for centuries for as long as she can remember. With both of her parents now gone (her mother died when Juliet was a very small child), Juliet is no longer merely curious about the District, she feels an intense longing to go there to find out where she came from.

And despite the potential dangers lurking within the walls of the Theatre District, she is immediately swept away by the magic of it all; the flawless performers, the interconnected storylines, the tangled secrets, and – most of all – the delicate and mysterious threads tying it all together. But while she soon realises that much is hidden from audiences to add to the allure of the show, Juliet doesn't see how much is hidden from her as well until it's potentially too late...  

My review

I did not feel an instant connection to our protagonist, but as Juliet ventures onto her single-minded mission for the truth we start to understand her. Her naivety, her curiosity, and her carelessness as her search for answers turns more desperate and dangerous. And, let's be honest, it's difficult for a character to not be overshadowed by a setting when it's one as otherworldly as the District. 

One of the reasons I moved to London (many, many years ago) was for the wealth of theatre I'd have on my doorstep. And while I've seen some fantastic productions and performers throughout the years, nothing comes close to the spectacle of the show within this book. It sounds absolutely wondrous and I wish it was possible to see it with my own eyes. It's no surprise it has had such an avid following throughout the centuries and even people who've never been, like Juliet, are dazzled from far away. As soon as she steps foot in the District and experiences her first show, I was sold too.

Author Anne Corlett cleverly lifts the curtain on the District just enough for readers to be equally swept away by the impossible as the audiences attending the show. She hooks them in with the promise of revealing what's truly happening backstage, without giving everything away at once. It keeps readers on their toes just as much as Juliet, when she's navigating the hidden passageways and doors that make up the the theatre's intricate foundations. 

Theatre of Glass and Shadows is exciting, dangerous, and completely engrossing. It's as much the story of the District as it is that of Juliet; the secrets of the show connected to Juliet's past in more ways than one. I was utterly enthralled, particularly when we meet key players, such as the enigmatic Director and some of the performers. That's when murmurs of the truth start to ripple throughout the pages, keeping readers on the edge of their seat as it cascades into the explosive finale. It's absolutely magical. 

Theatre of Glass and Shadows by Anne Corlett is published by Black & White Publishing and you can now buy your copy from your favourite local book shop!

Blog tour stops for Theatre of Glass and Shadows by Anne Corlett

This review for Theatre of Glass and Shadows is part of the blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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