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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ten Thousand Stitches by Olivia Atwater - Review

Official Author Website
Buy Ten Thousand Stitches HERE
Read Caitlin's Review of Half a Soul


OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn't what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repairperson.

FORMAT/INFO: Ten Thousand Stitches was published by Orbit Books on July 19th, 2022. It is 245 pages long, split over 19 chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. It is told in third person from Effie's POV. It is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: (A Quick Note: Ten Thousand Stitches is a standalone sequel; while some characters from Half a Soul make an appearance, it can be read on its own and still be enjoyed.)

Euphemia “Effie” Reeves is a maid in a respectable noble house. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, except she’s in love with one of the sons, Lord Benedict, and she knows perfectly well that a maid will never catch his eye. But one day, Effie is approached by an elf from the faerie realm known as Lord Blackthorn. He offers her a bargain: he will help her become a lady and win Lord Benedict’s heart, and she in turn will embroider a coat with ten thousand stitches. Against her better judgement, Effie accepts the bargain, and soon Effie is attending balls and catching Lord Benedict’s eye. But is Effie’s true love the person who only sees her when she’s in fancy ballgowns, or is it someone else?

Ten Thousand Stitches is a pitch-perfect regency fantasy, effortlessly blending slow-burn romance with a healthy dose of whimsy. The tone reminded me a lot of one of my favorite childhood books, The Phantom Tollbooth, in the way that absurd situations are treated with utmost seriousness, and abstract concepts are frequently manifested in concrete ways. For instance, at one point, Effie is given a dress made of dignity; when she wears it, people treat her with grave respect and ask her counsel on a range of matters, for surely someone so dignified MUST have all the answers. These are the kinds of situations Effie frequently runs into on her quest to make Lord Benedict fall in love with her.

Topping it off is a slow-burn romance, as Effie slowly realizes the qualities that are truly important in a person to make them worth loving. This being the kind of romance novel with a Happily Ever After, you will occasionally find yourself screaming at Effie to realize who her true love is, but any frustration is tempered by the fact that the two characters earn their relationship over the course of the novel. It is absolutely satisfying when that Happily Ever After finally manifests.

Speaking of outrage, another theme I loved in this book was the good that can come of anger. Not getting mad in general, but in getting properly outraged about injustices – and then doing something about it, whether it is standing up for yourself or banding together with others to demand reform. This theme goes hand-in-hand with the theme of just how demoralizing it is as a servant to have your best quality revolve around being unseen. How can a person who is supposed to be beneath notice actually be treated as a person?

CONCLUSION: Despite these weighty themes, Ten Thousand Stitches still floats on air, a lovely faerie tale that has earned a place in my heart. If you’re looking for a charming break with winsome characters and a whimsical flair, you must pick up Ten Thousand Stitches.

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