Cover Image: The Absinthe Underground

The Absinthe Underground

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Member Reviews

This book had me by the throat as soon as I read the description. It has so many things I love, but I was especially excited for the sapphic romance and Fae vibes. I adored the romance that was built up between the characters, and I think the only thing that would have made this book better for me was if there had been more of - everything. I really loved it, and I'm excited to see what Pacton comes out with next.

Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for granting me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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The Absinth Underground is good historical fantasy with Sapphic romance. Pacton does a great job of illustrating the world of 19th century France and world building the magical elements.

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I am absolutely obsessed with the aesthetic of this book. I love historical fantasy romance and I also often really enjoy friends to lovers romances! The issue with this style of romance is it does require some dedication to drawing out the progression and developing in a way that's both believable and satisfying, which I believe this book struggles with to a certain degree. I actually think that a longer page count could have helped it to properly develop both the plot and the romance as full arcs. I'm still eagerly looking for more romance set in this time period as well as more sapphic fantasy romance and I'm interested in what this author writes next!

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I enjoyed this so much! The moulin Rouge vibe was everything I wanted and more. Can we petition to make this a musical?

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3.5 stars

I’ve read a couple of Jamie Pacton’s books so far (and I think I’ve reviewed at least her The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly book), so I thought I knew what to expect with this one, and I liked how it sounded anytime I heard about it. I’ll be honest though, I was not “utterly enchanted” by this one. In many ways I feel like it under-delivered.

But, I am seeing other people who are raving about how great this book is and giving glowing reviews. I wish I was one of those people. And if this book sounds interesting to you, definitely still pick it up, and I hope you become one of those people gushing about this book.

The beginning was great. I enjoyed the set-up, and I thought the atmosphere and vibes at the early pages of the book was great. I enjoyed the stealing posters for money concept, and was really excited to see how the Fae elements of the story would be woven in. Plus, I really wanted sapphic roommates/friends-to-lovers pining and longing becomes romance story.

To me, though, the longing was good, but I didn’t really feel the yearning to be together. It just felt like both Sybil and Esme told us that they had feelings for their roommate and that was it. I wanted to feel how they felt for each other more, and instead it felt like I was just told how they felt. I mean, clearly they cared for each other, but I didn’t feel it the way I want to in a book that calls itself romantasy.

The build-up to going into Fae for this heist was nice, but I feel like the timeline was too short. We didn’t really get much time for any sort of sidequest, and there weren’t that many complications. The job/heist felt very simple to me, and that was unfortunate because I was so looking forward to it.

I wanted more of the Fae realm and to understand more of the realms relationships to each other, and the magic, and of course all the Fae politics.

I will say that I did read this book fairly quickly. It was only 304 pages, and I wanted to keep going, to follow along with Sybil and Esme’s adventure, and see how everything turned out. So, it held my interest enough that I wasn’t setting it aside for other books. I just wanted a bit more depth from it.

I’m still going to keep reading Jamie Pacton’s books, because her writing style is easy to follow, and for the most part I have really enjoyed her books. Besides, 3.5 stars isn’t a bad rating. This book just didn’t wow me as much as others have, and that’s okay.

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I just finished reading the absinthe underground by Jamie Pacton this month and omg everyone needs to go read this book right now??!!! I need more ppl to read this book and shout about it that way we can get a sequel cause although this eneded so nicely and everything have wrapped up perfectly I feel like there could be more to this story!!(:

This follows two main characters name Esmie & Sybil who are two different girls. One is a human and a reader and the other is part fae but doesn't share that she is part fae. This book had everything I love in a fantasy romance novel, a heist, a friends to lover trope, a cute guy too! This is a freinds to lovers trope story and I forgot about that until I got to the end of the novel lol! I just did an author interview with Jamie on Instagram so go check that out and hope u guys really do pick this book up!(:

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Overall Rating: 3/5

I have to admit that I was so so excited about this book and the overall aesthetics when it had first caught my eye, and while the coziness and pretty details definitely held up to standard, I have to agree with most reviewers that there was quite a bit lacking even for YA. However, I quite liked the fact that we jumped straight into the middle of Esme and Sybil's relationship, and I don't think every couple needs a big "AHA" this is why I like them moment. Sometimes people just like other people without a deep intricate backstory! I enjoyed the fact that that both liked each other for quite some time but tip toed around the truth with each other, in reality that is incredibly common in the sapphic community.

My biggest problem was how easy everything seemed to come to the girls throughout their journey. Even the obstacles that did come about just seemed too easy to conquer for my liking, and there was so many coincidental moments that it started to become predictable whenever a challenge did come about. My favorite aspect was how wonderfully written and magical the fae world was. I could have stayed in those chapters all day with them exploring al the different areas and creatures. I also enjoy art history quite a bit, and I love that the author included so much detail about how the idea came forth in the Author's Note. Like others, I also had a slight problem with the formatting which at times made it difficult so push through.

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For some reason, I didn't realize this was YA when I requested it, so I have to say I adjusted my rating rubric slightly to account for that. It's been about a year since I last read YA!

All in all, I would say this was a fantastical and cozy read. There is some action near the end, but the story itself felt cozy and small; I read this before I went to bed at night and it was a nice comfort read after another book I was reading at the time (a very, very tense thriller).

The upsides:

-The setting. Like I said, this felt very cozy. I wished we could have stayed in the novel's pseudo-Paris world the whole time! The opening scenes were rich with atmosphere. I just so wish we could have seen more of that world.

-Sapphic romance. While this didn't feel like as much of a "romantasy" as I expected (doesn't that genre mean more romance than plot? I'm not sure, I haven't read much of it because it's all hetero.), I loved the fact that it was there and it was sweet.

The downsides:

-I struggled to be convinced by Sybil and Esme's romance. Because they both started out in love with each other (though neither of them knew how the other felt) I felt like I never got to understand exactly <i>why</i> they loved each other, or <i>how</i> they came to feel this way. It seemed like there was supposed to be pining, but I never felt it at all. Because it was so clear from the beginning they both liked each other. The sapphic romance is what got me interested in this novel in the first place, but it turned out to be the storyline I cared the least about. I wish we could've seen them falling in love, rather than being told so from the beginning.

-Some things felt too easy. While I liked this because things felt a little more low-stakes in my mind, which made reading it more relaxing, it didn't seem to match up with the urgency the characters seemed to feel. The adventures in Faerie had ups and downs, and the final action sequence felt rushed and almost like Sybil and Esme were onlookers rather than heroes in their own story.

All in all, it was a fun read. Nothing showstopping, but I would totally consider it a comfort read and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cozy fantasy to read snuggled up in an armchair in the evening.

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I think this book could've been fantastic, if only it had another round of editing, The atmosphere is great, the chracters intersting but it just doesn't live up to what it could be.

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Overall this book is joyful, lighthearted, a fun magical romp, and filled with historical and fantastical ambiance. You will enjoy this is you love lighthearted fantasy, fun YA stories, and two friends in love with each other but in need of an adventure to push them closer. If you're interested in queer history or historical artists movements the first half should definitely spark your interest, along with the authors notes at the end.

I would say this book is not for folks looking for something character driven, a slow burn, or high/epic fantasy.

Book covers are magical. They pull you in and spark your interest, but sometimes it's not for the story you're actually getting. I interpreted the cover as something with a more magical main character and darker themes. But that isn't a fault of the book or the gorgeous cover, simply another way that expectations can affect the reading process. So I would caution anyone who has similar expectations that it's actually more lighthearted and the fantastical stuff doesn't start until the halfway mark.

For me personally in the first half I didn't learn as much about the characters as I wanted and didn't have a deep feel for who they were by the time I closed the book. At the same time, I enjoyed their story and I was rooting for them to make it. I would definitely be interested in a sequel going into the story of Chloe and Hyacinth, Lucien, and the ins and outs of the fae world.

Lastly, regarding diversity, of course our two main characters were queer. However it seemed like every character from "our world" was a white person. Two people were explicitly stated as white people, but no one was ever explicitly stated to be another race. I believe 'deep' was used for someone's skin tone, but there was no more information about them (culturally, etc) that gave us a clue to their background. One of the main characters, Esme, could conceivably be argued to be a person of color - this is definitely my head-canon - but at no point in the book is that explicitly laid out to make it clear to the reader. There was no other representation that I was aware of. For that reason I would hesitate to call this a diverse book.

Overall it was very enjoyable with only a few missteps along the way. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a fun, lighthearted magical adventure.

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DNF 25%. I don't like the writing style and I just feel like the story is advancing way too quickly. The romance is already somewhat developed and I wished we would've gotten a moment of realization on the part of both girl. On top of that, I'm just not feeling the Roaring twenties vibes, it's missing something.

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The book, I'm sure is wonderful. However, I did DNF at chapter 2 because the formatting was awful. Please please please format arcs, my autism can't handle it.

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I forgot to leave a review for this, but I really enjoyed it! It's been out for ages, so I won't say much more than I need to for my star rating. <3

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A simple, sweet book following two girls who are pulled into a fae quest somewhere around late 1800's Paris. It has sapphic elements and fairy-tale vibes, but it just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.

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⭐⭐⭐✨ (3.5 stars rounded up)
The Absinthe Underground is a sapphic friends-to-lovers romantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The romance between the two young adult ladies is very much a pure-hearted, discovering love romance (vs. a spicy romance).

Sybil is a wild, extroverted romantic who loves a night on the town and steals posters to support herself, her roommate and friend Esme, and their million cats. She's a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants character that I loved. She's had multiple flings with girls and boys, and she's comfortable with her sexuality. Esme is an introvert who loves her cats, books, and clocks. These two sweet characters are easy to fall in love with, and they had me wishing they would just get together already!

The fantasy portion fell a little flat for me. I was hoping for an exciting fae adventure similar to Holly Black, but there wasn't as much excitement as one would want. I think this would be great for younger teen readers.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an arc!

Firstly I have to say that this cover is beautiful, like amazingly soo!!!! But even with that the story wasn't captivating to me. I wanted to get into it and I tried so bad, but by the end I was feeling like it missed something.

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I have to be honest, I didn’t know The Absinthe Underground was set in the same universe as The Vermilion Emporium. How have I not realized? But I was very positively surprised to be back in Severon. Following Sybil and Esme was a wonderful experience. We meet them when they go about a usual quiet evening. Esme with her clocks and her cats, immersed in in her work yet aware of Sybil being restless and full of adventure next to her. The two of them are very different characterwise but that makes them a good fit.
Where Sybil is adventurous and impulsive, Esme is thoughtful and calm. Sybil gets them into situations™, Esme gets them through and Sybil manages to save the day in the end.
I liked how they don’t change in their cores for the duration of the story but become more as they realize important things about their world – and the fact that there are more worlds out there. They learn to treasure what they have and finally act on their feelings for each other. The two of them have already been best friends and seeing the romance between unfurling was beautiful. The looks here and there, the subtle touches, the constant thoughts. The romance had a prominent space in the novel and I enjoyed it a lot!

I also liked the heist a lot. Even though some things later revealed were pretty obvious to me. Some parts went very quickly and too smoothly and something about the heist itself seemed suspicious. But I loved how it all was described. I really liked the tasks in Severon which already showed the resourcefulness of the girls, especially Sybil. But I also loved to read their journey into Fae and how magically it was written; there were the devious fairies but also some surprises as well as different kinds of magic to reckon with.

I do think this book could have been longer. Some of the things, especially when it comes to the heist, seemed rushed and quickly dealt with. I would have loved some more details, maybe some more drama even.

But I was so happy to be back with Jamie Pacton’s beautiful, slightly metaphorical writing that set an amazing scene and built such a perfect atmosphere for the story that I was so sucked into The Absinthe Underground, I still loved the book a lot and would highly recommend it despite the very few issues I had with it!

And for a last point, I really need to mention the cover. I mean, excuse me? How dare you be so gorgeous? I’ve had heart eyes over this cover ever since I first laid eyes on it!

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me this ARC!
I really enjoyed this sapphic fantasy set in a fantasy version of 1890s Paris.
The whole idea of this cool club run by a Fae was just really intriguing and I loved how fast paced it was.
The two main characters Esme and Sybil were both lovely and relatable and the pining between was so cute.
Their individual personalities and interests made me giggle a lot.
Bonus points: there’s a lot of cats and nerdy talk about clocks!
The only thing I didn’t like was how fast the part in Fae was over. The author made up such a cool and complex world only to rush through it. It’s rare that I say a book could’ve been longer but in this case? I would’ve ate this up if it was 100 pages longer.

Overall definitely an underrated and queer gem!

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I was really excited to read this book because of its interesting premise (sapphic, 1920s-esque, fae mystery etc) but I have to say it took me a while to finish it. I think ultimately I didn't really connect to the characters, even though the story was fun and had potential, the characters fell a bit flat for me and their romance wasn't very exciting. I also thought the pacing & world building on the fae world needed some more work. Ultimately this had a great concept and a lot of potential but it missed the mark for me.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Peachtree Teen for the eARC.

I needed to find the publisher name in order to write this DNF review - and now knowing that this is YA, my dislike makes more sense! The cover and description of this book were fantastic, so I was very disappointed that I didn’t get caught up in it. However, “thrilling” and “cottage core” are oxymorons - so the description doesn’t actually make sense. By the third mention of the main character’s cats in the first chapter I knew this was going to be a tough finish for me (and I adore my cats!) Unfortunately, there was nothing eye-catching to keep me engaged past the first chapter. I don’t think I’m a friends to lovers gal (usually) and I’m a bit too old (yikes) for YA unless it’s something special.

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