Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.
Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.
Mixing fantasy and literary history, Coakley (Witchlanders) focuses on the works the Bront s created in their youth, much of which survives. In her story, siblings Charlotte and Branwell Bront have the power to travel physically into the world they have created together: the romantic city of Verdopolis, full of star-crossed lovers, glittering nobility, and dashing villains. Their younger sisters, Emily and Anne, used to go along on these trips, but Charlotte and Branwell eventually stopped taking them, without giving any explanation. When Charlotte, prompted by her father's dislike of melodrama, vows to give up visiting her childhood dreamlands, her siblings are angry and confused. Emily, who had always hoped that either Charlotte or Branwell would relent and take her traveling again, begins to wonder how travel between the worlds is possible at all, and whether that power is necessarily reserved for her elders. Coakley's research is solid, her prose is clear, and her plot introduces intriguing ideas about the interplay between reality and fiction, but she doesn't manage the essential task of writing characters who are believably geniuses, capable of accomplishing the things the Bront s eventually did. Ages 14 up.