Cover Image: The Charmed: Fae of the Crystal Palace

The Charmed: Fae of the Crystal Palace

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I loved this book!! Romantic suspense in Victorian England with supernatural elements in it?! Yes Yes Yes!!! What's not to love in this slow burn romance. I cannot wait to see what they get into in the upcoming books! Loved it!!! 5 star read!!!
I just reviewed The Charmed: Fae of the Crystal Palace by Kylie Fennell. #TheCharmed #NetGalley
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This book unfortunately wasn't for me. I've felt bored most of the time and I'm saying that as a fan of Victorian setting. There were parts of the world that were interesting to me, but all of them were an actual historical events and places- the fantasy additions didn't really add much to the plot. All of the time I've been wishing I was reading Veronica Speedwell series instead.

And don't even get me started about the romance. The romance part felt extremely YA (in a book marketed as an adult novel) and the push and pull made me actually roll my eyes A LOT. Both of the main characters are very immature and honestly some of the relationship traits were quite toxic, such as reacting with anger or resentment when the other person didn't act in a way MMC wanted her to react. It screams a red flag to me and in my eyes honestly such a relationship either has a base for turning straight up abusive or wouldn't last and I'm not really enjoying reading about it.
The attraction was based basically on nothing, and the characters felt flat. If you're gonna give me a theme of defying social expectations, I'm gonna expect the FMC to also maybe be more aware of the man literally wanting to condition a woman on how to act to please him.

The mystery was the only thing that sometimes kept my interest, but it wasn't enough to save this book. I'm sorry to say it's my first two stars rating of this year.

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This book unfortunately wasn't for me. I've felt bored most of the time and I'm saying that as a fan of Victorian setting. There were parts of the world that were interesting to me, but all of them were an actual historical events and places- the fantasy additions didn't really add much to the plot. All of the time I've been wishing I was reading Veronica Speedwell series instead.

And don't even get me started about the romance. The romance part felt extremely YA (in a book marketed as an adult novel) and the push and pull made me actually roll my eyes A LOT. Both of the main characters are very immature and honestly some of the relationship traits were quite toxic, such as reacting with anger or resentment when the other person didn't act in a way MMC wanted her to react. It screams a red flag to me and in my eyes honestly such a relationship either has a base for turning straight up abusive or wouldn't last and I'm not really enjoying reading about it.
The attraction was based basically on nothing, and the characters felt flat. If you're gonna give me a theme of defying social expectations, I'm gonna expect the FMC to also maybe be more aware of the man literally wanting to condition a woman on how to act to please him.

The mystery was the only thing that sometimes kept my interest, but it wasn't enough to save this book. I'm sorry to say it's my first two stars rating of this year.

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I really wanted to like The Charmed by Kylie Fennel, but unfortunately, it was not my cup of tea.

The Good: Kylie Fennel's writing is lyrical and beautiful. I think she has a true talent for writing in a way that feels like poetry. Her writing flows so well. Even though I didn't particularly like The Charmed, it was pretty easy to read because the writing was so well done. I can imagine, with a well-thought-out plot and likable characters, that Kylie Fennel would be able to write an amazing novel.

The Not So Good: The Charmed severely lacked in two aspects: 1) characters. The characters in The Charmed survive and thrive off of tropes. We start off with some great descriptions of Alice, the main character, who is not like other girls. She doesn't want a husband and doesn't feel the need for material things. She just wants to read and learn. Go off, queen.

"All were dizzyingly delighted at the prospect of securing a husband - it was everything a young woman dreamt of. All except Alice."

"She could have reminded her uncle that she had never possessed an appetite for the finer things a woman typically wanted."

Ick. Icky. Aren't we past shaming women for wanting to be married and wanting that material thing? Alice being averse to these things doesn't make me like her more, and it feels like a trope I am more than tired of.

Cyan, the main male character, was flat as a piece of paper. Think shadow daddy, but without the shadows - he's just a grumpy and mean fae man. Fennel attempts to create a background for Cyan, but that also falls flat. I didn't feel bad for Cyan. I just felt underwhelmed and bored.

Aspect 2) the instant love. I legitimately have no idea when or how Cyan and Alice fell in love, but suddenly it was happening and they couldn't be separated. Or else. To the point that it felt almost (definitely) toxic, and I was concerned.

"There was no existence, no future, without Cyan by her side."

Alice, bestie, I'm worried.

"'No life is worth living without you,' she chocked out"

GAH?

"'I need nothing but you.'"

I could go on, but I won't.

The instant love was really what did it for me. The romance between Cyan and Alice was a large proponent of the book, and it felt extremely tropey and false. There was no build-up, no tension, no slow burn. I wasn't convinced I liked either of them as characters, let alone together.

That being said, you may like this book if you want a quick read with a little bit of spice and a happy ending. I know this book is part of a series, but I also feel that it could work as a standalone. If you don't mind instant love and tropey characters, The Charmed may be the book for you.

2/5 stars. Thank you, Lorikeet Ink, Kylie Fennel, and NetGalley, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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okay hear me out. i really wanted to like this book. but unfortunately, it just did not work for me. which is okay. you should still check it out and thank you so much to netgalley!!!!

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I enjoyed The Charmed. I always love a good 'ol murder mystery that isn't too graphic and easy to keep up with. It was interesting to see how MFC, Alice, flourishes into such a strong independent woman during an era where it was not socially ethical for women to be of this nature. Also, there's just something about a man who can swallow his pride and let love fill the heart and let go of the past just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside!

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tl;dr
Dedicates most of its time to the historical romance and the fantasy adventure. Mystery gets a bit lost along the way.

Thoughts
According to the description, this book is a blend of three genres: historical romance, mystery, and fantasy/fae stuff. I came away feeling like it mostly only hit two of those genres, with the mystery being more of a set piece rather than the core focus. The front of the book read mostly like a Victorian romance, complete with an intelligent lady trapped by societal expectations, and strong historical setting with some well-researched flourishes. The back half read mostly like a fantasy/fae adventure with magic, plot twists, and some interesting time travel(ish) lore. Yes, there is a murder. Yes, occasionally clues are found or suspects interviewed. But through it all, the mystery took a back seat to the developing romance and the much bigger fae plot that comes into focus, so anyone looking for your usual mystery plot might find themselves a bit deflated on that point. Anyone looking for a very romance-forward romp will probably find plenty to enjoy, however. Alice and Cyan's attraction isn't instant, but it is fast-paced and very passionate, with some medium steam and plenty of drama. Writing style is very straightforward, with copious narrative detail, and some compelling supporting cast (the informant in particular is a lot of fun). This is the first in a series, and I hope that future installments lean further into the fae lore set up here, because it feels like there's a lot to mine in there.

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"I am yours with every agonizing beat of my heart"

This was such a fun read for me.
The mix between the Victorian Era society and the fantastical fae realm was perfectly executed in this book. I felt fully immersed in the atmosphere of The Great Exhibition and the history behind it all. This may be the first time I actually enjoyed reading a little bit about history (haha).

This book really does have something for everyone: history, romance, fantasy, mystery, and action. The author did an excellent job at spinning the intricate web of this story and I enjoyed every minute of it. There were twists and turns throughout the book and although you were given pieces of the puzzle along the way, we were surprised up till the very end.

Watching Alice overcoming the challenges she faces as an intelligent woman in a society that likes women to be anything but, is inspiring. Her and Cyan's relationship evolves beautifully throughout the book and echoes the sentiment that someone who truly loves you, will take every part of you.

"In that moment, despite having almost infinite power in the palm of her hand, Alice was utterly powerless. That was the thing about surrendering to true love. It made you stronger and more vulnerable all at once. But she wouldn't have it any other way"

I'm excited to know there will be another book and look forward to reading the next one when it comes.

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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me a free eARC of this book to read in exchange for my review!

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Unlock the secrets of Victorian England's underworld of fae magic, love and murder in this spellbinding romantic fantasy.

This was a decent romantasy with a good setting and interesting characters.

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The book cover was interesting and had that aura :)
I always enjoy a good Fae story, add some romance, mystery and fantasy and that is a perfect weekend read!
Many of the tropes we recognise, and which are still, enjoyable to read :) The time travel elements sometimes were interesting, sometimes made me go off into threads of thoughts.

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Set in London at the time of The Great Exhibition, this cleverly fuses historical fiction, fantasy, romance and thriller genres. I've read a couple of other stories with fae folk in our world and this was another good example of merging worlds. For me this was true escapism, very cosy to escape into.

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I loved that this book combined romance, historical mystery and fantasy, I don't think I have ever read a book with all three in it and I really enjoyed it. It was done so so well

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The Charmed by Kylie Fennell is set in 1851 the year of The Great Exhibition, the infamous Crystal Palace so named by the glass building designed by Joseph Paxton. Organised by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert and Henry Cole, The Great Exhibition was an international exhibition that housed exhibits from all over the world. The Crystal Palace is a place of wonder, and it is everything that Lady Alice Hyde could ever dream of, filled with inventions and offers her access to a world that will be closed to her soon.

She’s engaged to be married, and her dreams of travelling to the countries exhibited in The Great Exhibition are disappearing before her eyes. Little does Alice expect to have her world turned upside down while visiting The Great Exhibition. Witnessing the murder of a woman she knows, Alice is drawn into the world of the mysterious fae as she works with Cyan Symond, the Exhibition’s caretaker, to find the culprit. As Alice soon learns, there’s much more going on, and she’s right in the middle of it.

I wanted to like The Charmed, however, there were so many issues that I couldn’t ignore. Fennell’s world-building was interesting at times, and for me personally, the setting of The Great Exhibition was a selling point as it’s my hometown’s local history. Unfortunately, the interesting points were let down by stereotypical characters, weak plot points and huge over-reaching in the world-building.

Let’s start with the characters. Alice is the stereotypical clever and nosey female Victorian character who infuriates the male character, and ultimately they fall for each other. That trope doesn’t bother me so much. What did bother me was that as soon as they slept together, she turned into a completely different person who was fawning over him every second to the point where she couldn’t even finish a sentence. If this was one of those books where fae had a natural sexual attraction, pheromones or anything to explain such a reaction, then fair enough. However, there was nothing to explain this sudden change.

The other characters in the book can all be fixed to a trope. There wasn’t an original character at all in The Charmed, and the big reveals of the book were also huge tropes. The overall plot felt weak due to this. At the start of the book, there appears to be anxiety representation. Alice’s Uncle, the Viscount, struggles with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thoughts about germs. Later in the book it is revealed that Fennell has not written a character with anxiety or OCD representation, instead, she has just used mental health as a plot device.

While I found Fennell’s interpretation of fae interesting, she has chosen to mix time travelling with her world-building. On some levels, this works and adds interesting components to the story, but Fennell has over-reached at times. For example, bringing technology from the future into the Victorian era and completely ignoring the consequences of doing so. She has just thrown time travel into the mix and brushed any actual technicalities about it under the rug. I also kid you not that one of these items was called a “ray gun”.

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To be honest, I didn't expect that I would like this book so much. Fae fantasy and Victorian era are a combination I have never heard of. I love every single bit of it. I love Cyan and Alice's relationship here—quite realistic if you try to understand each of their perspectives, although I did get annoyed with Cyan who was pushing and pulling all throughout the book until he finally gave in. The unending twist of the events had my jaw hanging. 

100% will recommend it to people who enjoy historical fantasies and fae stories. 

Thank you Netgalley, Lorikeet Ink, and Kylie Fennell for the eARC copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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I was lucky to get an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I think the overall story and relationships were very enjoyable and kept me wanting to know more. The only issue I really had was unfortunately with our main character especially in the beginning where we were constantly reminded how she’s different and not like other girls. I can understand this was set in a society where women were expected to marry and play housewife and it’s a form of an Alice in Wonderland retelling so I’m not going to be too critical of that but I think it was emphasized a little too much in certain ways that weren’t necessary such as her putting clues together. But again, I understand where we were set so I can look past my personal little discomfort with that description and say I overall enjoyed the ARC I received and I think this will be a very enjoyable read.

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This was a great start to the Fae of the Crystal Palace series, it had everything that I was expecting from the genre. It worked with the fantasy elements and the romance elements worked well overall. I enjoyed how good the Victorian elements flowed with the universe with the characters. It was a great read and left me wanting to read more in this universe.

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Combining multiple genres is no small feat and Fennell succeeded rather elegantly. Historical fiction, fae, and mystery/thriller all in one. The writing was (lacking a better word, but it's fitting) charming, the characters' relationships were tightly wound, and there was just enough action to keep things interesting! The pacing was right on point, the female character (Alice) was not annoying but a rather strong lead, and the male character (Cyan) is exactly what you think of when you define the word "brooding". Their dialogue was fun, fit the time period, and I overall enjoyed this book!

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy.

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I just finished The Charmed: Fae of the Crystal Palace A Spellbinding Romantic Fantasy Series (Book 1)
by Kylie Fennell @kylie_fennell and here is my review.

Lady Alice Hyde grates under the constraints of being a woman living in Victorian England. Due to marry a man she does not love, thanks to an arranged marriage set up by her uncle, she has her whole boring life mapped out the way society deems.

During a tour of The Great Exhibition at the crystal palace has her curious mind alive with wonder. She is having a wonderful time until she discovers the body of a young woman. A woman she has met. She cannot allow her death to go unpunished and joins the investigation with Cyan, a man she dislikes immensely and it puts her into mortal danger.

Not only does the investigation lead her hot on the trail of a killer but opens her eyes to the world around her full of magic, destiny and desire.
I have never read a historical romantasy before and I have to say, I loved it a lot! Cyan is the perfect grumpy fae and Alice the optimist. I love their dynamic. It was an interesting concept, having fae in historical fiction with technology and knowledge far outstriping what is known for the time. The whole murder mystery mixed in gave it a nice twist too. I never read a book that falls into so many genres but this book managed to nail it for me.

The story of Alice and her family history was very interesting and I am intrigued enough that it is the catalyst for my longing to read book 2. There was a lot going on and the book managed to hold it all together very well.

I thought the whole book was very well written and was a great start to what I hope will be a very good and long series. It wrapped up most of my questions while setting up book 2. I was thoroughly entertained and the author has quite a talent.

4.5 stars

Thank you to @netgalley and @lorikeetink for my gifted copy!

#thecharmedfaeofcrystalpalace #kyliefennell #romantsy #historicalfiction #fae #reader #bookreview #bookish #bookblogger #igreader #readercommunity

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I really enjoyed this! There’s a Victorian vibe to it, the romance was really well written as well. And there’s fae! This is like a combination of Bridgerton, A Court of Thorns and Roses, but with more mystery elements to the plot.

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