I was so happy to read an advance copy of
THE GILDED GIRL by ALYSSA COLMAN
It released on April 6th 2021
Before I get to the review, here's the synopsis via Goodreads
Any child can spark magic, but only the elite are allowed to kindle it. Those denied access to the secrets of the kindling ritual will see their magic snuffed out before their thirteenth birthday.
In 1906 New York City, Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic is the best kindling school―and wealthy twelve-year-old Emma Harris is accustomed to the best. But when her father dies, leaving her penniless, Emma is reduced to working off her debts to Miss Posterity alongside Izzy, a headstrong servant girl who refuses to let her magic be snuffed out, even if society dictates she must. Emma and Izzy reluctantly form a pact: If Izzy teaches Emma how to
survive as a servant, Emma will reveal to Izzy what she knows about magic. Along the way, they encounter shy libraries, quizzes that literally pop, and talking cats (that is, house dragons). But when another student’s kindling goes horribly wrong, Emma, Izzy, and their unexpected new friends embark on a journey to keep magic in the right hands . . . or else there’s a risk it will be snuffed out forever.
Heartfelt, fast-paced, and utterly absorbing, The Gilded Girl is Alyssa Colman’s sparkling debut novel about determination, spirit, and the magic of friendship.
Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for entrusting me with an early copy of this wonderful, fresh middle-grade novel perfect for fans of The Little Princess.
In a world where only the rich and powerful control magic, young Izzy, a servant in a magical school for girls, vows to kindle her magic and stop it from being snuffed out, as is the rule for all 12 year-olds who are not wealthy enough to kindle. But her plans get upturned when a student named Emma's father dies in a sudden earthquake, leaving the girl penniless. Emma has no choice but to work for the school and its terrible mistress to avoid the workhouses. She befriends Izzy, and together they find a way to keep their magic and prove their worth.
This book was a breath of fresh air. I discovered the nod to its source material, The Little Princess, early on, and my excitement only grew. Throw in some magic, social equality, and friendship and you have a recipe for one fascinating debut. If you know the story of TLP, you will know what to expect in terms of story-line, but read it not for the structure, but the magic.
What set this book apart was the relationship between Izzy and Emma. They come from two completely different castes and yet they find familiar comfort in one another. You have one girl raised in privilege, yet still humble and kind despite her ignorance of how others without money live. And then there's fierce and determined Izzy who wants nothing more than to get out of dodge and find her younger sister with whom she'd been separated from when her parents passed away. Izzy's perspective is what really drew me into the story. This fresh spin gives you a look from the other side of the railroad tracks.
This is the type of book twelve-year-old me would have gobbled up.
Ermmm, let me backtrack on that. This is the type of book thirty-nine-year-old me would gobble up. And I did. I gobbled it up. And I am SO excited to see what else Colman has in store for us.