Cover Image: Dark and Deepest Red

Dark and Deepest Red

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Member Reviews

Great story and loved the romance. Loved the cast of characters and how the story came to be. Great story and I would read this author again.
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Magical realism isn't for me because I hardly ever like books in this genre. Things are never explained to my liking and I just find it really hard to get immersed in this type of world. Against my better judgement I tried again but I just can't seem to get past this author's way of writing.
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I am sorry to say this book was not for me. I did not enjoy the alternating time periods/chapters. It was very hard to see the connection between the story in these chapters. The writing was also too fluid and overly descriptive at times. It took about a 1/3 of the book before I decided I just could not finish it because I was not invested in the characters or story.
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I love Fairy tales. I love Hans Christian Anderson, but I was caught with this version of the Red Shoes. The real story is about a little girl gifted with red shoes that cause to dance with out stopping. She needs up asking for a butcher to cut off her shoes. I could get past the first few pages. I really wanted to gives this book a try but I just couldn't.
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As always Mclemore does an amazing job at creating a richly-imagined world filled with diversity, magic, and intriguing characters. This is a story meant to be read slowly so the beauty of each word can be savored. The only minor drawback is that the characters were somewhat insipid, but that was compensated by the overall richness of the plot. I most certainly will recommend this book to all my students.
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Fans of fairytale inspired novels will love this one! McLemore has such a beautiful writing style that I felt as though I was transported into a whole new world when reading this book.
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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I love McLemore's writing. It's so lush and magical and heartfelt. This particular story is based on one that was a favorite of mine as a child, and it's a wonderful rendition.
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I've heard good things about this author, and I'm so glad I tried out their newest book. This was very different from anything I've read before. Most of it worked for me, but I did find myself zoning out in a few places. Still, overall this was a good book, and I really enjoyed all of the diversity. And the prose were great.
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Another magical offering from McLemore. This book switches between historical events and present day characters, and as you progress through the book you come to understand the links between them all. At the heart of every McLemore story are characters trying to find themselves, and I think that's what draws me in every time - it's a universal experience that's just such a key part of being an adolescent. McLemore talked at North Texas Teen Book Festival about the way that this book helped her to delve into her own identity, and I love this book even more for the way it can impact readers since the writing process affected her. It's a powerful book, and it's different from everything else she has written, though the underlying search for identity and authentic relationships is still there. Definitely will recommend, especially to readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings.
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Dark and Deepest Red is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Shoes but with a twist of course in true Mclemore fashion. The authors note is a must read. Loved the dual time line and LGBT rep.
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I own all of Anna Marie Mclemore’s books and this is the first I pick up. They all have such interesting and unique premises, full of magic and whimsy. Dark and Deepest Red is a retelling of The Red Shoes, but with a modern twist. I really enjoyed that there was diversity with a trans character and a Romani main character. It was a vivid read written in dual timelines and perspectives. I enjoyed the story well enough but I thought the short ‘chapters’ made the reading experience a bit jarring.
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Anna-Marie McLemore is without a doubt one of the most lyrical YA authors writing today. Their descriptions, word choice, tone, and use of magical realism paint vivid images for the reader. That being said, they are not for everyone. McLemore’s stories are complex, original, and surprising and are not for the casual reader. They are the perfect author to recommend to aspiring writers, readers looking for a challenge, and fans of fairytale retellings who have outgrown series like The Lunar Chronicles. In Dark and Deepest Red, McLemore tackles Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Red Shoes” about a girl whose red, dancing-shoe-shod feet are cursed to dance forever. McLemore’s story vacillates between two stories: Strassburg in the 1500s featuring a Romani girl in love with a trans boy, dealing with prejudice and accusations of witchcraft, and the present-day USA where only Emil (whose family was blamed for the dancing fever 500 years ago) can save Rosella (who comes from a family of shoemakers) from her dancing fever affliction through his reluctant research into his family’s role in the ancient curse. In typical McLemore fashion, these magically realistic stories provide a lens into a deeper issue - in this case, prejudice, discrimination, beauty standards, identity, and coming to terms with the past (among many others, I am sure). McLemore describes their story as “Red Shoes + Medieval Queers,” lol.

I was fascinated to learn McLemore got the idea for the story from an actual, little-known historical event - the Dancing Fever of 1518 in Strasbourg, France, where hundreds of people (mostly women) danced for days and many DIED due to exhaustion, stroke, or heart failure. McLemore went to Strasbourg to research (so cool).
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I absolutely love fairytale retellings, especially ones written by this author. 
As a refresher, The Red Shoes is a tale by Hans Christian Andersen and features a girl forced to dance by the red shoes she wears. There are quite a few differences between what happens to the girl in the story and what happens to Rosella and Emil is significantly less dark than what happens in the original tale. Dark and Deepest Red brings an amazing story of love, loyalty, and friendship to life by highlighting multiple themes related to minority communities. This is the second book and fairytale retelling I have read by this author and I have been blown away by the passion and dedication shown to LGBTQ+ and POC in the storytelling.
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Scheduled to post 2/18/20.

I love McLemore's writing. I really do. It's lyrical without being pretentious or overwritten. The flow of her storytelling is just mesmerizing. Her characters are three-dimensional and compelling. DARK AND DEEPEST RED hooks you in and doesn't let go, sucking you into history and the history that repeats itself.

The magical realism in McLemore's writing is so subtle but provides so much to the story. There is a magic here with the dancing fever (even though it did actually happen back in 1518, it wasn't just a fantasy made up for this story) and in Rosella's red shoes, even though it's a dark magic. The glimmer that occurs in Emil's and Rosella's town every year speaks of magical whispers, of lucky things happening for a short period of time that the universe takes back when it's all done. It threads through the whole story and adds a layer to it that just MAKES the story.

It's a story of acceptance and that fear that comes along with learning to love yourself and where you came from, despite everything. In the 1518 storyline that was a very dangerous thing to do, considering people had a tendency of burning those who were even a little hint different. But in the modern timeline we watch Emil deny his family, not wanting to hear about his family's past because it'll just make things harder for him. And Rosella hiding her red shoes and smothering who her family was in an attempt to protect them. And the acceptance of everything finally setting them free.

It was the same with Lala too. She tried so hard to blend, and like James Comey trying to hide in the curtains, it didn't quite work. She acted the way the town wanted her, lived the way the town wanted her, said the things the town wanted her to say and still they turned on her, the first to receive blame when everything went to hell. And it wasn't her trying to blend into this town that saved her, but Lala owning who she was and spitting in the faces of those who would spit on her and winning at their own game.

DARK AND DEEPEST RED is a turbulent story that made my breath hitch in a few places, but one filled with so much acceptance and so much insight I couldn't not love it. It moves in and helps you feel good about yourself not in a way like 'oh thank god these things didn't happen to me' but in a 'the truth will set you free' sort of way. The truth about yourself, your family, your history. Denial and repression only beget heartache, at the very least. It was such a good book and I look forward to reading more of McLemore's writing.

5
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This book was so beautiful and important and had so many important elements weaved into it, I can't possibly coherent about it right now.

That above is a previous update, right after I finished the book, and now, a month later, as I came here to finally write a (brief) review, I'm finding that it still holds true. Although this isn't one of my favorite Anna-Marie Mclemore's book the quiet words within its pages still had a big impact on me. 

So if you know me, you know I'm a sucker for books with two timelines with actions of the past having an impact on the people of the present, and that's exactly what DARK AND DEEPEST RED DOES. It follows Rosella and Emil who are childhood friends living in the same small town and are the two minority kids in their class, Rosella is Latina and Emil is Romani. Rosella's family makes red shoes and as Rosella makes her won pair, it seems to be enchanted, trapping her feet and making her dance uncontrollably. Then in the past, Lavinia, a Romani girl, is peacefully living in Strasbourg in the 16th century while hiding her ethnicity because her people are being hunted, chased out and killed, but then people start uncontrollably dancing and dying from the dance plague and fingers start being pointed in her and her aunt's direction. 

So yes, this is in many ways a Red Shoes retelling, with many elements of the original story sprinkled in both timelines, but the author puts their own magical spin on it. At its core this is a story of prejudice, racism and xenophobia and the kinds of coping mechanisms people my use to face the oppression that comes with it. It's a powerful story of embracing who you are in a world that's set on hating you and making you hate yourself. This story also shows that even 500 years apart things aren't as different as they might seem, as sad as that sounds, AND that the actions of our ancestors aren't always as resolved as we think they are and they might catch up with us no matter how hard we try to ignore them. 

DARK AND DEEPEST RED has Anna-Marie's staple quiet whimsical writing threading this story together, and although as times I wasn't unsure I was 100% sold on it or really invested in what was happening, that kept me reading, which is something I was grateful for at the end when both stories started overlapping and the connections between them started to unfold and as our main characters grew and came into themselves. This story has also another character who doesn't have a POV but is Lala's (Lavinia) love interest and he's a trans boy. And I really liked how all these elements came together to make this book what it is.
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There is no way I can give this book anything less than 5 stars.

It’s very hard to articulate the power Anna-Marie McLemore’s stories & writing has over me, and to explain everything it has and means to me within a review. My expectations going into it were incredibly high; McLemore is among my top 3 favorite authors of all time. Also HOLY QUEER ENDING, BATMAN.

Every aspect of this was unique, starting with the story itself. In a time when YA fairy tale/myth/classic/etc/ retellings are all over the damn place, this one still stands out. This book felt like it was actually telling a previously untold story, unlike others out there, which made it feel much more fresh. On top of that, McLemore has talent for telling stories that need to be shared; ones about minorities, queer voices, and those who have been persecuted. They dig into those struggles without fear, but with so much care.

The writing was colorful and gorgeous as always… full of vivid imagery and carefully crafted passages. Things, the magic things specifically, were revealed slowly and kind of secretly, which is something McLemore always does. I personally don’t mind it, but I can see how it might be frustrating for some readers. To me it just feels lyrical and adds to the magical experience of their books. And yet while the writing was mostly “magical,” it also was erratic/frantic at times. But even in those moments, the erraticism fit the story well, because it reflected the characters’ confusion and experiences, and the world around them. The tone always matched the pace and setting.

As a whole these characters were fierce, fleshed out, and diverse. Rosella & Emil’s story was my lesser favorite of the 2 storylines/settings. Bits of it were repetitive, to the point where I felt like I stopped learning anything new about those characters. Just the same internal struggles with rejecting their family’s histories, feeling “outside,” and being confused by the magic overtaking them. That being said, I did care deeply about those struggles they battled with, and think maybe it was repeated in an effort to show just how all-consuming their family & identity issues were to them. But Lala though! Just give me more Lala & Alifair please! I would read a sequel/companion/whatever novel just about their little lives in the woods together. SO PRECIOUS.

While this wasn’t my favorite of McLemore’s books - that award still goes to Wild Beauty - this was still exceptional. I may not be able to identify with the specific experiences happening in this novel, but my own queer experience and heart had bits of this still. I will hold so many lines of this book deep within me for many years to come, and will forever read everything McLemore writes.

There is immense power in accepting and loving who you are and where you come from, but there is also great risk in it. And it is terrible to know the suffering that so many go through just to live their most authentic lives and be unashamed of it. I am grateful to Anna-Marie McLemore for continuing to write stories that take back the power, and for helping to make the world a little bit more bearable and honest.
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*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

I wanted to love this so bad!! I have loved Anna-Marie McLemore’s other books, but I didn’t find myself loving this one. I feel like a traitor to the McLemore crew!!

This story is told in two different timeline; 1518 and 2018. In 1518, Lavinia (Lala) and her family fall under suspicion of witchcraft as women are plagued with a dancing curse. In 2018, a pair of red shoes make Rosella dance uncontrollably. The dancing curse draws her to Emil, who’s family was once blamed for the fever that happened in 1518.

The writing was absolutely beautiful. As always. For some reason, I felt like this book was overly lyrical in a way that didn’t reinforce the plot positively. In their other books, McLemore’s lyrical writing adds to the plots haunting mood. I didn’t find that to be the case with Dark and Deepest Red. I’m also not a huge fan of historical fiction in general, so this was an especially tricky read for me.

The fact that this book was based on the dancing plague of 1518 is awesome! This book has so many great aspects: the writing, the plot, the representation. This just didn’t hit the spot for me, personally.
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I was drawn to this because I just love Anna-Marie McLemore and everything they write. This book did not disappoint. It was a beautiful story with lots of history in it that I was did not know much about before I read it. Loved it.
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I received a complimentary copy of Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore from Feiwel & Friends through Netgalley. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Dark and Deepest Red was released on January 14th!

In 1518 Strasbourg, a mysterious affliction causes the women to dance uncontrollably, some until they die. Lala and her aunt fall under suspicion because of their dark skin and otherness. Lala is scared that charges of witchcraft will ruin their lives and the life of her aunt's assistant Alifair. Lala has begun a relationship with Alifair, but if anyone found out he was born with a woman's name, it could have dire consequences.
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Five centuries later, a descendant of Lala's family, Emil, discovers that his friend and romantic interest Rosella is dancing uncontrollably because of a pair of red shoes. The shoes were made by her grandparents and now they won't come off her feet. They force her into some dangerous situations, but Emil is there to help her. Together, they will try to free Rosella from the shoes.
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Dark and Deepest Red was a difficult read for me. Since I was reading an ARC, I don't know if my main issue was addressed before publishing. Lala's 1518 storyline was told in present tense and Emil and Rosella's current day storyline was told in past tense. It wasn't until about a third of the way through that I realized this was what had confused me so much. Also, I never got invested in Emil and Rosella. I did enjoy Lala and Alifair's storyline and the trans representation. I kind of wish this book had just stuck to 1518 though.
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