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.
I cannot even begin to tell you exactly how much I love this book. Which really should not surprise you as Anna-Marie McLemore is the deity of Magical Realism. Their writing style is so beautiful and evocative it makes our own world feel a tad bit more magical.
Dark and Deepest Red was the one ARC I was absolutely determined to get and when I received it I dropped everything to read it. I have been sitting on this review for three months now and it’s been nearly killing me. I needed some more of Mx. McLemore’s intensely magical, very gay, tear-inducing good times.
They did not disappoint. This book which is both based on the fairy tale of The Red Shoes and a real actual dancing plague was stunning from the very beginning. I was slightly worried because half this book is based on the fifteen hundreds and thus historical fiction which, it is known is not my fave.
But surprisingly I really enjoyed those chapters and in some ways even more than the modern ones. I loved the Romani main characters and their culture, especially Emil who is one of our modern characters, who isn’t interested in the history of his people. Unfortunately, his history is interested in him!
Rosella, on the other hand, is enriched in her families history was shoemakers specializing in beautiful one of a kind, red shoes. When everyone’s red shoes show up during an annual weird shenanigans time in her town, so does a pair of cut-up shoes Rosella once salvaged from her grandparents. Once she stitches them together and slips them on, they won’t come off.
Five centuries earlier we have Lavina and her aunt and the apprentice boy who wandered in from the woods. They live in a time period when they have to hide their Romani heritage as great persecution spreads through Europe. Alifair is such boyfriend goals HONESTLY! And as I have said many a time the way McLemore writes about trans identities is perfection.
But Anna-Marie McLemore outdoes themselves with this book and just how incredibly gay and heartwarming it is. Never have I ever wanted for a cute girl to point at me and tell some magister that he has her demon and to release me. BIG BRUJA ENERGY!!!
Listen I could go on and on, but I’m telling you right now this will be the most beautiful and wonderful book you are going to read in 2020 so set your calendar reminders for the 14th of January. You need this book!
I give Dark and Deepest Red 5 out of 5 stars.
Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore is out 14th January 2020 by Feiwel & Friends. You can preorder your own copy at Booktopia or wherever you like to purchase books.
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A Review Copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.