Author – Laura
Growing up, Aurelia was haunted by the mysterious death of her parents when she was very young, and she has always longed to know the truth about her past. At eighteen, she meets a man who will change her life forever, and when he disappears before she can learn his name, she vows to find him again.
Thanks to an unknown benefactor, Aurelia travels to America to continue her education. There she comes across the existence of an exclusive ball that has been held every year for centuries. The decadent celebration of the senses travels from country to country, cropping up in secret locations and including only a very selective list of guests.
Caught up in a world of passion and intrigue, Aurelia soon becomes one of the ball’s star attractions. But little does she know that as her involvement with the festivities increases, she is coming ever closer to discovering the truth about her mysterious benefactor, her own past, and the identity of the one man she has ever truly loved.
I picked this book up in a charity shop, partly because the cover is gorgeous, and partly because it was described as “The Night Circus meets Bared to You”. Now, I’m no prude, and I read a wide variety of genres, but this book was an unexpectedly detailed and vivid account of one woman’s sexual awakening. It’s the only way I can describe it. The blurb doesn’t really hint at the graphic nature of the content, and in my innocence (ahem) I had no idea what an Eighty Days novel was.
I do now. I’m just not sure how to review it on a family friendly blog!
This book is weirdly beautiful. I felt like I was watching the action through a thin veil, like it was all very secret and I was just peeking in. The action is slow to build, but is never boring. The author takes her time building the tension and developing the characters, and because the world is so hedonistic you feel like you don’t want to be rushed through the scenes in case you miss something secret, hidden in the corner of the room.
Once you are introduced to the Ball it’s easy to see why there are comparisons to The Night Circus. Every year the Ball takes on a different personality, as it has for hundreds of years. Although there are many characters in the book they are almost secondary to the Ball itself, linked to it and integral to its success or failure, similar to Celia and Marco at the Circus. Everything is planned to the finest detail, with nothing being left to chance.
Although I liked Aurelia, I didn’t really connect with her on any level. She is detached and uncomfortable in her own skin to start with. It’s only after an encounter with a mysterious stranger that she begins to explore her own sexuality. Siv is the quintessential crazy best friend, who gets into situations that causes Aurelia more than one or two headaches throughout the book. Also, no one needs to use the ‘C’ word. Its just horrible.
This book is so much more than a bit of dirty titillation. It stands on its own as a unique and surreal adult fantasy. Yes, there is a lot of erotic content, but it doesn’t feel overly graphic, more like a journey of sexual awakening; learning about how your body works and how powerful it is. There is no shame, there are people of all shapes and sizes, and everyone seems to be having a great time if nothing else!
I’d hesitate to recommend The Mistress of Night and Dawn, simply because it really isn’t for the faint-hearted. But if you’re open-minded and want to get lost in a vivid world of masquerade and enchantment then I’d say get stuck in. Excuse the pun.