Charlotte E English, $0.99
Fantasy Romance, 2013
Charlotte E English’s Miss Landon & Aubranael is set in an alternate 19th-century England where humans and fae folks co-exist together. Hence, when this story opens, our heroine Sophia Landon sews a tiny shirt for a brownie named Thundigle. A clergyman’s daughter, Sophy is sweet and kind to all, and is hence beloved by both people and fae folks who know her. Mind you, she’s not getting nothing out of this. Not exactly the most focused or capable person in housework, she ends up receiving aid from the fae folks such as Thundingle to keep the place neat and tidy.
It is while following the advice of a bridge troll that she believes to be a friend on an errand for that troll that she ends up with Aylfenhame, the home of the fae folks, with only Thundigle for company. This is how she meets Aubranael.
Sophy regarded him in silence, keeping a wary distance. His skin was dark brown; he was much browner than any person she had ever seen before. She could discern little else, for the wide brim of his hat and his unruly hair covered much of his face. Only a single bright brown eye was visible, twinkling with merriment and fixed upon her.
The hair is because our hero’s face is disfigured, which makes him an outcast of sorts among the pretty fae.
The great purple cat came leaping back, sailing past Sophy’s head without warning and making her jump with fright. The cat leapt straight at Aubranael’s face, but instead of attacking him—as Sophy’s startled mind expected—the creature collided with his great hat, and sent it tumbling to the floor. At the same time a cloud slipped over the sun and a great gust of wind came howling down the street, blowing back Aubranael’s long hair. For the first time since their meeting, Sophy was afforded a clear view of his face, and she could not help
He might once have been handsome, but some accident had wrested from him forever the power of being considered even tolerably pleasing. His face was a mess of twisted, scarred flesh; only his eyes, velvet brown and suddenly sad, had escaped unscathed.
His expression changed as hers did. All his sunny merriment drained away, and he looked stricken.
‘Apologies,’ he said quietly, bowing his head to hide his face, once more, behind his hair. ‘I should not have asked; now I have made you uncomfortable.’ He spoke without a trace of bitterness or resentment, or even self-pity, and he made no attempt to chastise the cat. His apology seemed sincere, and Sophy cursed herself for her reaction. What could it possibly matter, when he was such congenial company?
A hero that isn’t bogged down by self pity? I’m intrigued.
At any rate, he is so charmed by the sweet Sophy that, when she returns back to her home in Lincolnshire, he decides to head over there to know her better and, who knows, maybe even see if he can start a new life over there. After all, many fae have moved to the human world and lived happily ever after, and he doesn’t fit in his own world. As Ariel the Little Mermaid would say, he is going to be a part of Sophy’s world! However, that silly thing decides to court Sophy under a different guise, hoping that she will fall in love with him and then he’d reveal the truth and all will be well. Hah!
If this review and the excerpts scream to you of some beautiful baby born from the mingling of sparkling genetic materials from Disney cartoons and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you won’t be that far off the mark. Miss Landon & Aubranael captures the whimsical, fantastical atmosphere of those things, and it also comes with some adorable illustrations that can fit right in any kiddie book. There is no explicit sex or violence here, so it’s also a wholesome read for kiddies when they can’t sneak away from their parents to read naughtier things.
As for me, this one is sweet. I really like the setting and the tone of the narrative, as there is always something fun and intriguing to be had every other page. However, I eventually notice that I am far more enchanted by the setting than the main characters and their romance. Sophy is sweet without being too sentimental or dim-witted in the process, which is nice, but there isn’t much of anything else to her. It’s the same with Aubranael, there is a one-dimensional kind of charm to him. Like Sophy, he is adorable, but scratch beneath the surface, there won’t be much else to be had. The whole thing is like those infectious and cute tunes from those Disney cartoons. I like it, it’s so adorable, but if you ask me whether I’m bowled over by the whole thing, I would have to admit that the answer is no.