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Brightly Burning- Alexa Donne 4/5 Stars

As a self-professed lover of classic literature from British to French to German, Jane Eyre is the novel I have enjoyed the least. So, it was actually really surprising to me when I enjoyed this sci-fi retelling as much as I did. In fact, I avoided reading this book based on the premise of it being a re-telling of Jane Eyre and I'm glad I finally took the plunge.

The characters were nuanced and complex, all but the villain but I'll talk about him more later. The world-building was immersive and felt fully-realized. It helped set a more urgent tone and raise the stakes for the relationships and interactions. The writing was solid, good description/action ratio which the original felt out of balance to me. The dialogue felt believable and there wasn't too much or too little which can weigh down a book and make it hard to read. I really liked the switch from it being his crazy wife to being his crazy mother, it really made us more empathetic towards Hugo and made those relationships more nuanced. Smartly done.

However, the villain seemed written as an afterthought which made Hugo's poor decisions much harder to forgive or redeem in the end. The end dragged on a little too much. And Hugo and Stella's relationship left a lot to be desired. Mainly, Hugo did something REALLY bad and as a reader I never really got enough redemption to justify Stella's continued relationship with him. Or the INCREDIBLE lengths she goes to in order to be with him. Hugo had issues, which I actually really liked. He was mysterious and engaging, not the perfect guy by any means but it did a disservice to his character not to allow him full redemption in the end and left me feeling unsatisfied at the end of the book.

I'm sure I'll go into all of this more on my youtube review and will link it once it's live to this review. I really enjoyed this book and hope you do too!

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