Book Reviews

Book Review: The Glamourist

Title: The Glamourist
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Fiction

What It’s About: A bird with at red strings hits a window and remembers that it was supposed to be someone, and is there for a reason. The bird turns into a woman–Yvette Lenoir–and Sidra is right behind her. Both of the women are upset to be back in Paris, the city of lights, and Sidra claims that Yvette had stolen a wish. To prove that it was indeed stolen, Sidra performs a spell on Yvette, which shows that Yvette had wanted to come back to Paris to find her mother or what happened to her in order to learn to perform magic, after having seen Elena do proper magic.

Sidra then tells her that neither she nor Yvette can leave Paris until Yvette’s wish is fulfilled, and hands Yvette a bottle for safekeeping. Yvette begins to wander around Paris, using the streets that she once was familiar with as a child to hide from the Police.

At the same time, Elena arrives with Jean-Paul in Paris, and together they make their way to the Office of Licenses in order to sort out Elena’s status as a venefica and a vine witch. There, they meet a man who wears a rather curious-looking ring that Elena later reveals is part of a secret society in the Magical world that is against mixing Magical blood with regular folk blood. The man essentially tells Elena that she cannot be both vine witch and venefica–posion witch–because there has never been a precedent set for a person to have two allegiances in magic. Furthermore, he tells her that her status as a vine witch is rescinded and she is now going to be a venefica, because that is her heritage, and no one will trust a vineyard that has a poison witch in its ranks. After all, they do have to protect people and no one will trust the wine for fear of poisoning if she stays on. He tells her that there is only one way he would give her the status back: if she turns Yvette in.

Elena is not okay with turning Yvette in, even if she did know where the young girl is, and Jean-Paul does consider it but tells her that if she is so set against turning Yvette in, he will help her figure out another lawful way to get her status back. They go to see Jean-Paul’s mother, who tells her that she has a surprise gift for them, and also that she is going to see the seance.

The following morning Elena and Jean-Paul get taken by Madame Martel to a location that turns out to be a painter’s room–Pedro, who from Spain–will be painting Elena as a wedding gift to them on behalf of Madame Martel. It is there that Elena finds a black cat and follows it to come across Yvette being attacked in the streets nearby. She scares the men off Yvette, and takes her to hide elsewhere, telling her that she will be back the following day, as Yvette has asked her to help her find her magic.

Until that moment, Yvette had been wandering around the city after visiting the woman who raised her–Tante Isadora–and who owns a brothel. Tante and she talk, before Tante gives her a book that has been hidden away in Yvette’s closet. It turns out that the book is a gift from her mother, and was to be given to Yvette on her 16th birthday; except that Yvette murdered a man and disappeared in order to not get caught. Yvette is unfortunately unable to make heads or tails from this book, but since Tante has made it clear that she cannot stay at the brothel due to the Police officers, she makes her way around the city for the night. That morning she had been around the alleyway she was familiar with, and tried to steal a couple of things from a store during a downpour, only to run away with a newspaper. She encounters Henri, an old friend of hers from her childhood, and they briefly talk, before going their separate ways, and she gets attacked.

Elena goes to the seance with Madame Martel, and meets the Comte du Lac du Nord, who is the former client of Madame Martel’s deceased husband. She realizes that the whole seance is actually an illusion, but isn’t able to pinpoint from whom that illusion is coming. Not only that, she has extended her stay in Paris for about a week, because that is how long it will take for the painting to be completed, which allows her to find the time to help Yvette. Elena also decides to check out the magical library with Jean-Paul in hopes that it will help them both find the answers to certain things that they are looking for. Jean-Paul is left behind with the codexes and laws in order to help Elena find a way to get her Vine Witch status back, while Elena goes looking into the family books to see Yvette Lenoir’s family tree. Unfortunately she strikes out with the family tree, but finds her own picture as an associate of Yvette’s, which she steals and uses to give to the painter to help him paint her while she is out.

During the time that she is supposed to be painted, Elena helps Yvette try to figure out what is going on. First, she sets Yvette up with a room next to the painter’s apartment, after encountering it thanks to the black cat that has been helping Yvette. She tells her to stay hidden, and eventually the two ladies try to work on the book that Yvette has, but Elena cannot figure it out. Instead, Elena takes her to a bookshop of the random bits and bobs of the occult whose owner is actually a witch. He is the one that reveals that Yvette’s magic is stunted, muted, and asks Yvette for how long she has had that scar, which has been pretty much her whole life. He closes the curtains of the shop, and Henri, who has followed them around, wonders what they are up to. Inside the shop, the man takes the spell that has been stunting Yvette’s magic, out, but they are not able to figure out what Yvette’s magic is either.

Yvette becomes very happy, and stays that way. Even though Elena tells her to stay put the following day, Yvette decides to go out anyways to meet up with Henri. Except, she is kidnapped on her way to meeting up with Henri, right in front of the meeting spot. Henri, who has been sitting at the cafe waiting for her, is none the wiser. Elena stops by the cafe, and Henri recognizes her, wondering what she is up to, so he follows her. When she finds that Yvette is missing, she comes back out, only to see that Henri has been stabbed by two thugs–who coincidentally are from the group of thieves that he is a part of. Elena saves his life with an illusion, and they try to work together to figure out what is going on with Yvette.

It turns out that the man who runs the group of thieves has an agreement with someone who has a contract out for Yvette’s capture, so long as it’s with a book. With Henri’s help, they find out that the paints are mixed with mineral stones, which are the same type as one of Henri’s favorite artists. They are able to put together that the woman in those paintings, the muse that Henri has been kind of copying, is Yvette’s mother, and the painter, most likely her father. The three of them visit Isadora, who finally breaks down after being told that someone has kidnapped Yvette, after years of not wanting to reveal who Yvette’s mother is.

It turns out that Isadora was in a ballet school in Paris with Yvette’s mother, Cleo–who became the biggest Prima Ballerina in Paris. Yvette’s mother was sponsored by a man–Comte du Lac du Nord–who later became her husband, and made her steal for him. She then began to fall in love with the painter, who is indeed Yvette’s father, and together they escaped, but only after the Comte had burnt her arms. They were supposed to take Yvette with them, but had a last minute change, and asked Tante to look after Yvette, with the promise that she be given the book at 16. It turns out that the Comte has been after that book for years, which is why he had Yvette attacked the night before she turned 16, and again in recent. This confirmed Elena’s belief that Yvette was attacked for something, by someone, who constantly keeps looking for the key or the map–based on the language used by some of the attackers. They are able to determine that Yvette is one of the fairies based on the information they have from Isadora and the additional subsequent research and reading that they do.

Elena has to go to a dinner with her mother in law and Jean-Paul, and they arrive at the fancy restaurant, where they are seated, only for Elena to be called away not long after. Henri had stolen the book, and was planning on going to exchange it for Yvette’s life. He also took a gun, and goes to the location he typically meets with his group, and puts the gun to the head of the leader of the group. He sends the request for Yvette to be brought by the others.

Yvette in the meantime has found herself in the dark underground tunnels of the Catacombs. As she wakes up, the Comte arrives along with some of his minions. He confirms to her that she is not his daughter, but he wants the map that she has, which is the book. He does not reveal who she is, but taunts her with the knowledge, saying that in her culture, the 16th year of life is important. Yvette refuses to give him anything, so he leaves her to be beaten by one of his men, only to come back later and find out from her that she left it at the Butte (which is not true) in exchange for information on her mother. He tells her that she was married to him, but she’s disappeared since, and that she is the former Prima Ballerina. He then leaves her in the dark, alone.

At this point, the cat shows up, and brings some gnomes with them, who take apart her chains (iron that is burning her), after payment. They also provide her light, which gives her the strength to start doing her own magic. Yvette begins to squeeze through tight spaces, and follows the cat to safety–which is through the grates of a perfumery. There she becomes stuck because the irons hurt her, but she is pursued by green fire–presumably from the Comte. The noise brings the owner of the shop down, who saves Yvette’s life by fighting back against whoever is in the darkness. Yvette has already made it through the barriers by that time, and the woman helps her up to her perfume shop, where the two talk, and she reveals to Yvette that she must be one of the fairies.

Elena, Jean-Paul, Madame Martel, and the bookshop owner make their way to the Hellhole, where Henri is found. A fight breaks out in exchange for the book, as the men who were supposed to bring Yvette have not brought her, and the Comte still wants the book. The whole building is set on fire by the Comte, but Elena is able to defeat him, while Henri saves the book from the fire, and Yvette shows up to help. When the officer from the Covenants Bureau shows up, Yvette, Elena, and Sidra (who has shown up at that time) slip away and go to the museum alongside Madame Martel, Jean-Paul, Henri and the bookshop owner.

There, they find the paintings made by Yvette’s father Tulane, and Yvette makes her offerings per the instructions in the book. The painting starts to move, and her mother comes down from the painting–she is indeed Cleo, the Prima Ballerina–and her father also comes along. They reveal that they had Yvette and they really loved her very much that they were planning on taking her with them to the other realm in order to escape the Comte who had been making Cleo do the dirty deeds to fund their lifestyle and hurting her in the process. The problem turned out to be that since Yvette was born in the mortal realm, she had to be left behind because she could not make the decision on where she wanted to be–the mortal or the fairy realm–before her 16th birthday. Tulane reveals that he was the one that made the scissors fly into the throat of Yvette’s attacker on the eve of her 16th birthday, out of anger and frustration.

Inspect Nettles overhears this confession, and tells them that he still has to take Yvette in because she already confessed to the murder. Yvette tries to argue, and Nettles says that there is no way out. Tulane offers himself up for her freedom, telling Yvette that this is the price of love of your own child. Then King Oberon steps in–the king of the fairies–and tells Nettles that the law is an ass, and that Nettles will not be taking his granddaughter or her father into custody. Seeing that he can’t do anything against the King, Nettles agrees to write up the report exonerating Yvette, and the King tells him that if his people want to send an extradition request for Tulane, they can and that they will get the full attention of the creatures who serve him. These said creatures, are the ones hiding in King Oberon’s robes, and they laugh hard showing that they will not care enough to follow the extradition request.

When the King leaves, he leaves Yvette with a choice–stay in the mortal realm or come home to Cleo and Tulane to learn how to control and use her magic. Ultimately, Yvette decides to come home with Cleo and Tulane to better know how to use her magic, and says goodbye to Elena, Jean-Paul and Henri. Cleo does clarify that time flows differently in the Fairy realm than in the mortal one, but Yvette still struggles with saying goodbye to Henri, for whom she has feelings and who cannot join them in that realm. Cleo, Tulane and Yvette enter the painting and are gone into the other realm.

A little while later, Jean-Paul presents the paperwork to the Office of Licensing, specifically to Durant, that confirms Elena is both a Vine witch (on her father’s side) and a poison witch (on her mother’s sides). He then also uses the other laws and exceptions that have been made to other witches with two blood allegiances, that allows them to choose which one they want to be part of. Durant tries to argue with them, but Jean-Paul presents too much documentation for him to continue arguing with her. Durant does add that the exception has merit, but Elena will have to give up her mother’s bloodline forever, which she has absolutely no problem with. The following morning, they see the painting done by Pedro, which is more Cubanist in style than those he has done before. The two of them agree to take it home, but they have no idea where they will want to put that painting in their home.

My Thoughts: I was really curious to see what Yvette’s story was like and what her magical background was but I wasn’t really expecting fairies involvement. So that was a twist that was not expected, though I did figure the scarring had to do with something magical.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed Yvette’s story, but I am frustrated at how passive she tends to be; how she is very unwilling to test and try things especially when it comes to magic, and how quick she is to give up. But then again, supposedly fairies are fickle creatures according to this story, so it kind of fits with what Yvette is. Despite finishing it, I do wonder what that “map” was and why the Comte was after it so much. Was it greed or was it him wanting to get his wife back? I wonder, and I feel like this aspect of it was never really covered in the book, which I wish it was just to get that loose end tied up, when everything else had been tied up.

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