Baron Weaver's Game of Bezique: Book Review

Can a game of chance change Etienne's life forever?

Title: Baron Weaver's Game of Bezique
Author: Elle Beaumont
ISBN: 9781948668378          Language: English

Classification: Fiction
Type: NA fantasy with steampunk elements
Themes: society divisions, oppression, dreams

What's it about?
At eighteen, Etienne Mercier should have to worry about being hunted in the streets of Paris. To survive, he cons people with games of chance, hoping none will discover the truth his grown-out hair hides - he is Fae. Baron Weaver knows, though and when Etienne tries to con the man, he's the one who gets surprised.

Novella length - so great for the classroom. Interesting setting of a Victorian-Esque inspired steampunk meets PT Barnum.


My Thoughts
This is a July 16th, 2019 release from Elle Beaumont. This is the first book I have read of Elle's and I was drawn to the rather unusual cover especially. This was advertised as being upper YA but I will note right here that at no point did I feel this was a YA novel, to me it was firmly in the NA bracket.

Now, I don't fae (fairies if you've not heard the term before). I read a book about fae years ago and it was so terribly written that I have never again ventured into the world of Fae, until this book, and I'm glad I did.

Etienne is quickly established as a likable character. He does what is needed to survive in a society where his kind are treated poorly (like second class citizens). A chance encounter with the Baron sees Etienne leave his life behind in Paris and exchange it for a new life in a circus of sorts. This is a place where magical beings can feel safe, have a job, and entertain humans and make them pay for it. It's here that Etienne falls for Lili.

I think there are a lot of comparisons that students could be encouraged to make with this book and perhaps history - both past and present. The Fae are clearly an opposed race who struggle to find anyone willing to give them a chance. There are overtones of what has happened to them (though I found this less clear) and students could use analogies to explain their own thinking on the characters and the implications when compared to the real world.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and I do hope that there is more about Etienne coming soon. I had only two issues with the book. The first issue was pacing. The story established a steady pace for the most part when suddenly there was romance, and then the climax, and the ending - it felt very very rushed particularly from the climax (which I didn't totally understand the "why" of) and the ending was there. I felt that let the story down. The climax (sorry, I don't want to give it away) was very out of nowhere and I kept waiting for an explanation but never really got it.

The other thing I didn't like was the short epilogue. To me the story is stronger without it, I didn't like what it implied especially after such a quick ending that I was still trying to figure out. I'm hoping if the author is writing more about Etienne then she might consider deleting the epilogue so as not to cheapen the story and honestly, it was so short it added nothing.

Despite being NA I think this is a novella that would work well with senior grades, such as years 11-12. There is implied sex (very implied - fade to black), but I don't recall any cursing. I think the mature tones of the book would be welcomed by that age who are often already moving away from YA novels and looking for something more adult, which this book certainly is.

Definitely, one to consider for its historical focus, cultural study opportunities, and implications for society with government sanctions.

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