Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.
Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.
With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.
CW/Trigger Warnings: Transphobia, racism
I’m trash for Hans Christian Andersen, but especially any retellings of his. I mean, I could probably live off Little Mermaid retellings and call it a day, but thankfully I haven’t lol.
I won this in one of Michelle Likes Things’s awesome giveaways, pssst she, Anniek’s Library and Library Looterare also doing an awesome bookstagram challenge for Pride month! [Check out their posts and the #, #PrideLibrary20]
Anyway, this book has been on my radar since before it came out, so, I maybe made it a couple of weeks after getting it before finally flipping it open.
McLemore took Andersen’s retelling and then did something even more awesome, adding some history to it. It makes for a chilling premise and they did such an awesome job with presenting it in a modern fashion.
This is a story that spans the 1500s and ‘today’ as McLemore presents how the past can affect the future/present, showing how hiding who you are can lead to ‘some troubles’ to put it lightly.
Though I enjoyed the two stories in one, and how they connected, I did prefer the setting of 1518 with Alifair and Lavinia. And the book is done from the POVs of Emil, Rosella, and Lavinia, but, not Alifair, and also confusingly in first and third person, well, confusingly for me! It took me a while to get into it, though I did get in the flow of this format after about 60 pages!
It makes sense not to have Alifair’s POV though because he’s the only one who is not hiding who he is. Lavinia hides her Romani blood by posing as the possible result of a parent’s tryst with an Italian noble, she goes by ‘Lala’ and tries to assimilate to those around her.
Rosella mirrors Lavinia quite a bit in trying to assimilate, to hide her Latinx heritage and Emil hides his traditions and Romani heritage, and his feelings as well, denying what he has been feeling for Rosella as its easier to hide it than to risk getting hurt.
I did overall connect more with Lavinia’s story and adored her and Alifair, the ending was definitely perfection for their storyline, and I won’t give away spoilers but I did enjoy the ending for Rosella and Emil as well, I just didn’t connect with them as much on a whole.
Due to the length of the book and the switch of the 3 POVs there’s only so much we get to see of the characters and who they are but McLemore does a great job with it, I just think I wanted more, because, of course, I’m greedy lol.
Four out of five cups of coffee from me, and if you see a rainbow in the corner of my post image, that means a Pride read, which means LGBTQ Rep and/or Own Voices for it. [I’ll have a symbol for Own Voices, in general, soon on my reviews as well]