I have loved every single book I’ve read from Jamie Pacton. Jamie has such a way with characters who are endearing, charming, and complex all at once. And The Vermilion Emporium delivers the same. This is a fantastic YA fantasy book which will appeal to fans of bargains, danger, and friendship. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
It was a day for finding things . . .
On the morning Twain, a lonely boy with a knack for danger, discovers a strand of starlight on the cliffs outside Severon, a mysterious curiosity shop appears in town. Meanwhile, Quinta, the ordinary daughter of an extraordinary circus performer, chases rumors of the shop, The Vermilion Emporium, desperate for a way to live up to her mother’s magical legacy.
When Quinta meets Twain outside the Emporium, two things happen: One, Quinta starts to fall for this starlight boy, who uses his charm to hide his scars. Two, they enter the store and discover a book that teaches them how to weave starlight into lace.
Soon, their lace catches the eye of the Casorina, the ruler of Severon. She commissions Quinta and Twain to make her a starlight dress and will reward them handsomely enough to make their dreams come true. However, they can’t sew a dress without more material, and the secret to starlight’s origins has been lost for centuries. As Quinta and Twain search the Emporium for answers, though, they discover the secret might not have been lost—but destroyed. And likely, for good reason.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: self-harm, torture
Inspired by Radium Girls, The Vermilion Emporium is magical and heart wrenching all at once. Using a background of desperation driven by poverty amongst the dangers these girls faced, Pacton infuses this setting with fantasy and magic. With magical shops, bargains with consequences, and mystery. The Vermilion Emporium begins with grief and loss. The pains of losing the ones we love and how different our lives become. But The Vermilion Emporium then becomes a story about magic, perserverance, and intrigue.
Drawn together, Quinta and Twain become characters who will become immersed in our hearts. United by this mysterious shop, almost drawn together, they embark on a whimsical journey with definite danger. I would protect these two with my life. The Vermilion Emporium is about the magic of starlight and creation, hope and escape. Together they find themselves on a path towards their future, but to ruin or escape where will it take them?
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What I also loved about The Vermilion Emporium was how Pacton explores sacrifice. About how we have to ask ourselves if we will sacrifice for the ones we love, if we will let the ones we love sacrifice for us. How wrong it is to take what was made with love and to want to exploit that for power. How the world twists what we have and what we think if we let them. The Vermilion Emporium strikes the perfect balance between whimsy and danger, characters and action, fantasy and heart. Find The Vermilion Emporium on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.