Review: A Touch of Scarlet (Unbound #2) by Eve Marie Mont
Author: Eve Marie Mont
Series: Unbound #2
Publisher: K-Teen Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp.
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Format/Source: eARC/Received from publisher via NetGalley
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Retelling, LGBT
The compelling heroine of Eve Marie Mont’s novel A Breath of Eyre returns to find truth and fiction merging through the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter…
Emma Townsend is back at prestigious Lockwood Prep, but her world has altered immeasurably since her tumultuous sophomore year. The best change of all: her boyfriend, Gray. And though Gray is leaving for Coast Guard training, Emma feels newly optimistic, even if the pain of her mother’s long-ago death still casts a shadow.
Yet Emma isn’t the only one who’s changed. Her friend and roommate, Michelle, is strangely remote, and old alliances are shifting in disconcerting ways. Soon Emma’s long-distance relationship with Gray is straining under the pressure, and Emma wonders if she’s cracking too. How else to explain the vivid dreams of Hester Prynne she’s been having since she started reading The Scarlet Letter? Or the way she’s found herself waking in the woods? As her life begins to echo events in the novel, Emma will be forced to choose between virtue and love. But can she forge a new future without breaking her heart? (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)
**Actually, I might get a bit spoilery about Book 2 in this review. There are some things that just NEED TO BE SAID. You have been warned.**
Not Quite The Same…
I LOVED A Breath of Eyre, so I knew that I would enjoy A Touch of Scarlet. But I figured that I wouldn’t love it as much, because I’ve never read The Scarlet Letter. I debated reading it before reading A Touch of Scarlet, but I decided against it for a few reasons. First, I just really wasn’t interested in reading an old classic at the time. Second, it seemed too long and I was just ready to jump into A Touch of Scarlet. And third, I thought that it would be good for my review to come from the perspective of someone who hadn’t read the original work, because surely a lot of the reviews will be written by people who had read The Scarlet Letter and will therefore compare the two. But I thought it would be good to have a bit of variety.
And I have to say that, for part of the book, I just wasn’t loving it as much as A Breath of Eyre. And I think that was partly because of the fact that I hadn’t read The Scarlet Letter, but I think another big reason was because there wasn’t as much of, well, what’s the word for this? Spatial travel? Basically in A Breath of Eyre, Emma is in Jane Eyre for a large chunk of the book. And I liked that aspect of it. I do remember, in my review, saying that I was happy when Emma returned to her own time, because at times it seemed like it was “going to be nothing but a slightly altered Jane Eyre.” But I do feel like, for the most part, there was a good balance between Emma being in her own time and being within the world of Jane Eyre. But in A Touch of Scarlet, Emma really doesn’t spend that much time in the world of The Scarlet Letter. Yes, there are quite a few scenes where she is thrust into that book, but I felt like it was quite unbalanced, with a lot more scenes with Emma in her own time.
Now, it’s not horrible that A Touch of Scarlet spends much more time within Emma’s own time, but I feel like the fact that she travels into these books is the major concept of this series, and I felt a bit let down by the fact that it wasn’t as big of a part of this book. So I was starting to think that I really wasn’t going to love A Touch of Scarlet.
But Then Came the Awesomeness…
Now here’s where it’s going to get a bit spoilery. Some people who have read this book might not think of this as a spoiler at all, but I’m one of those crazy spoilerphobes who doesn’t want to know hardly ANYTHING about a book before I read it, so if you’re like me in that aspect, read on at your own risk.
I was worried about loving this book–but that was SO unnecessary. Because Eve Marie Mont turned this book into something extremely awesome. So, a bit more back story about this series: in both A Breath of Eyre and A Touch of Scarlet, Emma not only gets transported into classic works, but she also has something going on in her own life that reflects the theme of the story that she inhabits. And with A Touch of Scarlet, as you can guess, there is a bit of adultery going on and Emma herself feels outcast just as Esther does in The Scarlet Letter. (I haven’t read The Scarlet Letter but I do know the gist of it.)
But instead of stopping there and having Emma’s story be only about cheating and feeling the backlash of being the cheater or the cheatee, Mont takes it to another level and incorporates gay rights into the plot. So another “scarlet letter” is thrown into the mix, and the story becomes not only about being outcast because of being an adulterer, but it becomes a crusade for equal rights as well as a story about feeling like an outsider for any reason whatsoever. And, as a staunch supporter for gay rights myself, I couldn’t keep this part of the book out of my review, even though it doesn’t happen until later on in the book. I just couldn’t keep from applauding Eve Marie Mont for this aspect, which just fits in so well with the concept of the series. I loved A Breath of Eyre for its originality and cleverness, and after reading A Touch of Scarlet, I’ve become a fan of Eve Marie Mont for life.
My rating for A Touch of Scarlet by Eve Marie Mont:
Five HUGE stars. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, as well as anything else Eve Marie Mont writes in the future!
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review (Thanks, Kensington Books and NetGalley!). I was not compensated in any other way for this review.
Jessie MarieMarch 22, 2013 at 10:22 am
You didn't read The Scarlet Letter? You lucky duck! Ha, I had to read it at least three times when I was in school. It was required reading in Michigan high schools (I attended two) and I had an over-imaginative 8th grade teacher who thought we could handle it then. And I HATED IT. But now that I'm grown up, I can appreciate it a little more, albeit marginally.
This sounds great, besides. I like that you chose not to read the inspiration for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Plus, it might have further emphasized that lack of direct involvement of the classic.
Equal rights! That's FANTASTIC. I'm so drawn to that in fiction right now that I squee a little bit when a gay person shows up as a character. Makes my heart smile. So it's awesome to hear that this one tackles the issue in the most creative of ways. : )