Release Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Diversion Books
Author Links: Goodreads
When Ruby volunteers to take her mother's housecleaning shift at the gothic Cottingley Heights mansion, she thinks it's going to be business as usual. Clean out the fridge, scrub toilets, nothing too unusual. But nothing could prepare her for the decadent squalor she finds within. Rich people with more money than sense trashing their beautiful clothes and home just because they can. After the handsome Tam discovers her cleaning up after him and his rich friends, Ruby has never felt more like a character from her sister’s book of fairy tales.
Tam sees beyond Ruby’s job and ratty clothes, and sweeps her off her feet, treating her like a real princess, but Ruby is sure this beautiful boy is too good to be true. And as one tragedy after another befalls Ruby and her family, Ruby painfully learns that magic is all too real, and it always comes with a price.
This was a nice blend of fairy tales and fairies. Not that it's unheard of to do that, but the author did a good job of mixing them up into an interesting story that I really enjoyed. In fact, I started reading it in the afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it last night.
Dear Baby Jesus, please forgive me for feeding my kids Spaghettios and ice cream for dinner....again.
The plot was great (evil fairies using humans as disposable playthings), but what really stood out to me was the main character, Ruby. She was a believable teenager, but she also had a strong moral compass. You don't see that much, unfortunately. She's the kind of heroine that I would gladly want my girls to want read about.
See? I care. I am a good parent. *pats self on back*
Ruby has a pretty shitty life. Her father died years ago in a car accident, so her mother and little sister are all she has left. Fleeing her mother's abusive boyfriend has left the three of them broke and living in a grody trailer park. Her mom works for a housekeeping company, but it barely pays the bills. This means Ruby has to stress about things most kids don't worry about...like keeping her sister fed.
Due to exhaustion and stress, her mother get's sick, and without health insurance the bills really start racking up. Since they can't afford to lose any money, Ruby decides to stand in for her mom at a cleaning gig. No big deal, she's done it before.
Enter the evil fairies,and their house of debauchery.
Everything that happens to Ruby after she enters the house is intertwined with a fairytale. And to be totally honest, I'd never heard of that particular story/curse before, so I'm not sure how it compares to the original. It was cool, though, so I'm not complaining.
Most of the fairies in this story are pretty vile, with little to no redeeming qualities. You immediately know that Violet is deep-fried evil on a stick, but a few of the others are a little less obviously nasty. Take Tam, for example. He's the hunky love interest, and so sweet to Ruby. He stands up to his friends for her, and then follows her around like a puppy dog. But Ruby doesn't totally trust him...and neither does the reader.
This is one of the many reasons I loved Ruby. She looked around at all of the hinky shit these guys were doing, and didn't automatically think Tam was the Exception to the Rule just because he was nice to her. She had the sense to assume that if someone chooses to hang out with horrible people, they might not be all that nice themselves. Duh.
As the story progresses, we see Ruby's life spiral from bad to worse. Thanks to a crazy necklace and her sister's book of fairytales, it soon becomes obvious to her that something more than just Bad Luck is at work in her life. The only question is whether or not she can reverse the curse. Does she have what it takes to give her story a Happily Ever After?
Ok, just so you know, there's a pretty big OhMyGod! moment at the end. Is it a cliffhanger? No idea. There's no listing for a sequel, but the last page sure leaves it open for one. And if Ms. Blake decides to write more about Ruby, I'll definitely read it!