Diving into Jamie Pacton's "The Vermilion Emporium" was like stepping into a vivid tapestry of magic and romance. This novel, set against an imaginative backdrop inspired by the tragic tale of the Radium Girls, is a story of love, magic, and self-discovery, crafted with a finesse that captivates the reader from the beginning.
The central characters, Quinta and Twain, are both orphans with their own burdens and dreams. Their chance encounter leads them to the magical Vermilion Emporium, a place that holds more than meets the eye. The discovery of starlight lace patterns in this shop sets them on a journey filled with magic, danger, and the unexpected. Pacton's portrayal of Quinta and Twain is deeply compelling, making them characters you can't help but root for. Their development throughout the novel, especially their evolving relationship, is portrayed with a delicate balance of vulnerability and strength.
Pacton's writing style is notably descriptive, reminiscent of authors like Erin Morgenstern. Her use of language is both beautiful and evocative, creating a world that is rich and immersive. However, there are moments where the language slows the progression of the plot, but this does not detract significantly from the overall enjoyment of the story. The world of "The Vermilion Emporium" is a multiracial, vibrant place filled with magic, yet it is also marred by the dark realities and consequences of accessing such power.
The homage to the Radium Girls is a poignant aspect of the book, skillfully reworked into the fantasy setting. The concept of starlight and moonshadow being tangible, almost anthropomorphic entities, adds a unique dimension to the narrative. Pacton's ability to blend historical elements with fantasy is both imaginative and respectful, acknowledging the past while creating something entirely new.
What truly stands out in "The Vermilion Emporium" is the way Pacton weaves together various themes and elements. The book is more than the sum of its parts, with each component contributing to a rich, cohesive narrative. Despite dealing with dark themes, the novel maintains a warmth and intimacy, offering a cozy escape. The romance that blossoms within its pages is both charming and heartwarming, providing a light counterbalance to the more somber aspects of the story.
In summary, "The Vermilion Emporium" by Jamie Pacton is a heartfelt, beautifully written fantasy novel that successfully combines elements of romance, adventure, and historical fiction. It is a dazzling triumph that speaks to themes of loyalty, destiny, and the power of love. For readers who enjoy a blend of magic and reality, with a touch of historical reverence, this book is a must-read. It's a story that stays with you long after the last page, a testament to Pacton's skill as a storyteller.
This is a beautiful story and I think I was focusing too much on the Howl’s Moving Castle comp to realise the inner workings of the book. I was waiting specifically for Howl and Sophie lookalikes, but didn’t really get that (well I’ve only watched he movie but I hear the characters differ in the book). But I quickly realised that didn’t even matter!
I liked Quinta and Twain about the same. I think they complemented each other well and Pacton wrote them both well. I liked reading about Quinta’s insecurities and Twain’s drive. It made them more real to me and like them more. They both had dreams and wanted to dream more.
I think the shop then found them at the right time, for them both. The shop is full of dreams and pulls in dreamers. I definitely do think it shows itself to people when they need it. I like the shop – I did think they would spend all their time in it but I like what we got.
I think this is definitely a book where you should read more about the other comparison/inspiration – The Radium Girls. Pacton took that inspiration, really ran with it and made it mystical and wonderful. It spoke to burning yourself out to work for others who won’t care about you or how it harms you. As well as dismal working conditions – which happens in any era – in any type of workplace unfortunately.
I liked that she took the real-life events and added fantasy elements to it. It was well-done and was a good part of the overall plot. This is my first book by Pacton and her first fantasy book, but to me she managed to tie all the different parts of the plot together neatly – which isn’t always easy.
Rating: 2.5 of 5
This was... an okay read for me. It wasn't terrible but I found it quite forgettable. It also didn't help that the romance felt very instalove.
This had a beautiful magical atmosphere with plenty of whimsy that I loved, but sadly the story was a major letdown for me for three factors.
1) Everything comes so easily to our two protagonists. They're orphans who have been on their own for a few years, suffered huge losses (ok that didn't come easily). But this magical art of finding starlight and weaving it into lace just... falls into their laps? You expect me to believe that both of these arts have been lost for hundreds of years and when Quinta picks up a book of lace patterns and a piece of starlight her fingers just know what to do and not only follow the pattern perfectly but use it as a jumping off point to create something new? And Twain needs to find more starlight so he listens for its song and then just plucks clumps of it off rooftops and streetlights? How come no one in hundreds of years have been able to do it, exactly?
2) Quinta believes she has this great destiny because her mother told her "you were destined for greatness" which is helpfully repeated multiple times per chapter. And this is the sole reason she doesn't instantly agree to leave with Twain? Also, she insists she is a "one night girl" who is destined to leave anyone she loves but gives no reasoning for this at all.
3) instalove. Despite Quinta's insistance on being a "one night girl" she falls in love with Twain pretty much the instant they meet and immediately starts holding his hand and wanting to kiss him. There's no basis for it they're just boom! in love. I mean they're sweet together but...
bonus) The Vermilion Emporium (that the book was named for!) doesn't get a lot of page time even though it's definitely the most interesting thing in the story. We could have spent so much more time exploring its magical rooms than we did.
I loved the whimsicalness of the story but the flaws eventually overwhelmed any enjoyment for me and I had to put it down. Plus I read that it ends on a cliffhanger which doesn't make me want to finish it.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Peachtree Teen for providing an early copy for review.
Thank you to NetGalley and Peachtree for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
It was a surprise. I didn't expect so much of the cover but I couldn't stop reading that reminds me to the Taylor Swift song "Timeless"
Let me be honest – this book was not my cup of tea. One of the only things that actually drew my attention was the worldbuilding and setting of the story. It has a compelling magic system regarding its mystical lace and an interesting intersection between positivism and the fantastical with scholars studying in schools of both magic and scientifa. I especially enjoyed the way the magical system connects to the Radium Girls comp, a heartbreaking and destructive drawing of lifeforce from working women for inconsequentially beautiful things. The Radium Girls infamously were made to paint and craft with radium, a highly poisonous substance that caused irreparable damage to them as they are sacrificed for the production of common furniture. In The Vermillion Emporium, it is revealed that the mysterious origins of starlight lace was extracted from the human body, leaving the person weaker and weaker after each extraction, until certain death. However, I think it would have fared the plot and pacing better if this element was introduced earlier into the story, it would have heightened the suspense (something I find this book lack overall) and allowed for a more in-depth exploration into the magic system and Quinta’s backstory, which I thought was dealt with poorly.
One of my favourite vibes for fantasy books is "Ghibli-style fantasy romance", and this exactly that. I could so easily picture this as a beautiful animated movie, as it's so full of whimsy. And I absolutely loved the romance. I would highly recommend this if you're looking for a cosy fall read.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.
This was a fun and mysterious read that had me on my toes, grappling for more. I really enjoyed this book! It's a must read to be honest.
Oh this book!!!! I absolutely love this book with all my heart!!! Quinta and Twain are two perfect characters who were meant for each other. There is so much magic in this book it’s practically bursting at the spine!!!
The story is beautiful, magical, and romantic. This has been described as part Howl’s Moving Castle and that is exactly right!!! I enjoyed every step of the way to the ending. Then the ending really stole my heart and I cannot wait to reread this one!!!
I recommend this to those who loved Howls Moving Castle, those who love a healthy dose of magic, and romance. This is just too beautiful to miss!!!!
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this for my honest and unbiased opinion.
Thank you for sending approving me for this arc, and I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get to it (I am, unfortunately, a mood reader). I'm afraid this one wasn't for me.
DNF at 25%
It wasn't bad, per se. But I just wasn't into it. The story wasn't grabbing me, even in scenes where characters apparently in danger. And then there's the relationship...
It's not instalove (thankfully) but it's toeing that line. They've known each other for a matter of hours and already are WAY to trusting of each other and keep having thoughts along the lines of of "omg I wouldn't do anything different today because then I wouldnt' have met her and my world would be miserable".
I've only posted this review on Goodreads, but won't share it anywhere else.
Have you ever had a dream that feels too far out of reach? One made of impossible feats and feelings of untapped potential? What if you could capture that into a thread, which you could thread into a lace unlike any other material? Quinta and Twian are about to go on such a journey, with many perils in their paths. What truths will they find out not only about themselves, but the world they live in?
This story has an amazing jumping off point, a solid cast of characters, and just when you think it's about to get tropey the story shifts in an unexpected way that keeps you guessing. Why then, you must be asking yourself, would I only give this novel a 3.75?! Perils are only exciting when they are peppered throughout. In this novel nothing goes right for our main characters, and I mean NOTHING. By the end I was rooting for just one subplot to go their way rather than unfurling into telenovela levels of drama only to find myself rolling my eyes and trying to figure out if this trouble was worse than the last. I love good drama, but when it drags the story beyond to a point where you're just trying to survive it I find the reading becomes more of a chore than a cheer.
3.75 stars rounded to 4. Recommended for fans of extreme fantasy who don't mind a bit of PG romance, ages 12+. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a /long/ book. It was enjoyable but quite a few parts were a slog to get through. I really enjoyed the relationship between Quinta and Twain and the magic system with the lace making was super interesting. The book was already slow paced but once Quinta gets kidnapped from the ball it was excruciatingly slow. I think that’s more a me issue than a book issue since I prefer a fast paced story but keep it in mind as you’re going into this one. Overall a fun read and I’m glad I read it. 3.75⭐️
I'm so late in writing this review, but that in no way changes the fact that this book was such a fun read! Just the right amount of excitement and intrigue mixed with lovely romantical feels. Definitely recommend this read to anyone and everyone. Pacton's next book is set in the same world, and after reading Vermillion Emporium I cannot wait to read Absinthe Underground.
I loved this book. It was whimsical and magical and gave me The Night Circus vibes in the best way. The romance was sweet and I loved the world. I’d love to read more books set here because it was so unique and rich.
This was not my first Jamie Pacton book and I guarantee it will not be my last!
I haven’t been getting along all that well with most of the YA fantasy I’ve read lately, but The.Vermillion Emporium was a really well developed story that had me interested right from the start. My only complaint would be that it felt like insta-love but I did end up really enjoying their story. I also loved the magic. I thought it was so interesting, especially when you learn about the authors inspiration for this one. I definitely recommend this one for fantasy lovers. .
This was an amazing, light story of magic and whimsy.
Have you ever felt that sense of mystery that comes from stepping into a little used bookstore and getting lost in the shelves?
Imagine that bookstore isn't a bookstore at all, but a collection of all the wonderful things that you didn't know you needed. Imagine it gave you a purpose.
When Quinta and Twain's paths cross, they each bring one component of what's needed to create the legendary starlight lace, which can be used to magically enhance the person it was weaved for. Twain can find the starlight, and Quinta can weave it into lace.
These two youths and their unique talents catch the eyes of several of the most powerful people in the world, some with good intentions, and others less so.
The story was whimsical and interesting, with a dark twist. The characters - and their relationships - were believable, with prickly and ambitious Quinta and brave but mild-mannered Twain complementing each other well.
Will definitely be going back to read again!
Oh god, this book was so good!!
I have no idea why it took me so long to read it in the first place because as soon as I started reading it, I literally couldn’t stop myself!
This book is about two orphans who meet outside a mysterious curiosity shop called The Vermilion Emporium, which will appear at a whim. Twain has found a rare piece of starlight, Quinta has the magical ability to weave starlight into lace -a long forgotten secret in their world of Severon, and with good reason. This is the sweetest love story with adventure and the most whimsical and creative aspects!
The rooms in the Vermilion Emporium are all different, and will change at will
you never know what you will find, but apparently what you need will also find you!
A room full of music boxes, a room woven entirely from threads of shadow, or a room with a dragon-bone boat ...and so much more, I could have probably read like another ten chapters just on the Emporium alone. And the characters, Quinta and Twain were so well written and amazing!!
I also really enjoyed that the book took a turn in the middle, and there was a reveal was not expecting! If you are looking for your next magical read, I highly recommend this one as it’s one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read!
The way the setting was created was really good, especially when it came to the Vermilion Emporium. It's not like the YA book I wanted, which is different from what I expect from middle-grade books. This is a cool story about two friendly main characters having an exciting experience. Quinta and Twain are very strong-minded. This book has a wonderful setting and the first part is a charming love story with a touch of magic, but it later becomes more exciting and unpredictable with lots of danger and surprises.
I usually don't like when there are "comparisons" or the famous writing "this story is for lovers of Harry Potter, ACOTAR, etc..." as they can also be lies. Good marketing maneuvers, no doubt, but then we have to see how many of those already famous stories there are and if the author's style manages to win over readers like Rowling or Maas. But I must say that here in naming "Howl's Moving Castle" it was right and Pacton's style managed to keep me glued to the pages.
Twain is a boy who laughs in the face of danger, Quinta is the daughter of a circus performer who wishes to discover her magical abilities. They meet in a strange store and from there their Destiny takes an interesting turn. He has starlight, found by chance near a cliff and in that emporium they discover a book that explains how to create lace with that magical light. Such an object will capture the attention of their ruler and in this regard she will make a request to them. If they create a starlight dress for her, the guys will be able to request anything they want. But the two have no more starlight and return to the Emporium to find out where to find more. Too bad this research turns into something more dangerous and intricate.
The story is very imaginative and the worldbuilding really well described. It's not a trivial matter because many (I would even say too many) fantasy authors fail to give us a complete idea of the world they create.
I liked all the characters, from the first to the last. I turned up a bit at the insta-love but I still appreciated the couple Twain and Quinta. They are in love but they are also accomplices in a situation that is not at all easy. But we know that where there is magic there is nothing simple.
As I said before, I was very impressed by the author's style. I requested this title falling in love with the cover but I ended up loving the content as well. Pages that take you on a magical and exciting adventure.