Published by: Diversion Books
Release date: 16th July 2013
I got it from: Netgalley
Once upon a time, Ruby believed in magic…
Ruby volunteers to take her mother's housecleaning shift at the gothic
Cottingley Heights mansion, she thinks it's going to be business as
usual. Clean out the fridge, scrub toilets, nothing too unusual. But
nothing could prepare her for the decadent squalor she finds within.
Rich people with more money than sense trashing their beautiful clothes
and home just because they can. After the handsome Tam discovers her
cleaning up after him and his rich friends, Ruby has never felt more
like a character from her sister’s book of fairy tales.
beyond Ruby’s job and ratty clothes, and sweeps her off her feet,
treating her like a real princess, but Ruby is sure this beautiful boy
is too good to be true. And as one tragedy after another befalls Ruby
and her family, Ruby painfully learns that magic is all too real, and it
always comes with a price.
Ooh, what a delightful little find. This is why I love Netgalley. Because in amongst a load of good books (and a few not-so-good), now and then I come across a real gem that I probably would never have read otherwise. And now it's my job to convince you that you want to read it too!
The mesh between urban life and magic is perfect here. Ruby is as real as it gets - reduced to sorry circumstances, living in a trailer park with her mum and little sister, her grades at school slipping because she has to work and look after her sister too much. Then there's Tam. I'm not going to reveal what Tam is, because it's not mentioned in the summary and I don't want to drop a spoiler. He's, shall we say, different. In a non-spoilery way he's too gorgeous for words, rich, and surprisingly gentle. His friends are all spoiled brats just looking for the next high, but Tam is different. Blake leaves us plenty of clues as to just how different he is, scattered like a sparkling trail of glitter, so I'm fairly confident that you'll figure it out - at least before Ruby does. You can't blame her though - I would have found the truth hard to swallow too.
There's a delicious darkness to Slumber. Like the best, oldest fairy tales, all is not sweetness and light in Ruby's experience. From the moment she steps into Cottingley something shifts, and we take a walk on the dark side. Blake's descriptive talent brings her world alive with flair and passion. The sights, sounds and smells sink into your brain and make you feel like you're right there with Ruby. Sour champagne and rotten flours fill the air, glitter snd broken glass grind under your feet, and the swathe of destruction is something to behold. Then the inhabitants of Cottingley start to appear, and it becomes clear that this is the aftermath of no ordinary party.
Ruby herself is a brilliant protagonist. She has a wonderful sense of irony, a wry wit and a willingness to plunge ahead where others fear to tread. She cares so deeply about her family that she will do literally anything for them. Many people say that, not expecting it to be put to the test. Not so for Ruby. The relationship between Ruby and her little sister is so sweet, and I mean that in a real way rather than a saccharine way. I'm no fan of kids, so when I like a child character it means something.
I now want to read everything Tamara Blake has ever written, which is disappointing as Slumber is her debut. I hope beyond hope that she is currently writing a sequel, because I really need to know what happens to Ruby. Blake has a way of getting into your head and making the unreal seem real, and I want more of it!