Tangled Webs

Tangled Webs Book Cover Tangled Webs
Tangled Webs, Book 1
Lee Bross
Juvenile Fiction

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London-secrets. But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a seventeen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master,Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, an infamous thief who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in order to save enough money to buy passage out of London. Everything changes when she meets Grae Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is-not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?



“Tangled Webs” is a book that promises a glimpse into the seamy underbelly of Elizabethan England, following the life of a teenager who grew up in the household of a thief who used orphans to profit by committing crimes.  The premise is a good one and the world is built well, but unfortunately, it did not live up to the promise of what could have been.

As far as the plot goes, it is a very interesting idea.  Had it been told in a different style, with some character development tweaked, I believe it could have been much better.  The problem is, it is extremely dense.  It is almost entirely descriptive.  Even lines of dialogue come with flowery descriptions.  Perhaps it was in an effort to use third person the way it would be written in the time period, but it did nothing but irritate me as the book went along.  A better balance between description and dialogue would have made for much better pacing, and I believe more reluctant young adult readers will give up on the story after a chapter or two.

The character development ranged from iffy to outstanding.  Many secondary and background characters give the reader an instant overview of who they are through a couple of well-written sentences.  I applaud the author on her ability to do that so well.  Arista, the main character, and her partner in crime Nik, are intriguing and well-written.  Grae, the love interest, is an “instalove” who seems to have the personality of a rock.  I’m not sure why Arista would even notice him, aside from his stalker tendencies, let alone fall instantly in love with him.  It detracts from the romantic aspect of the book.

I would like to point out a few wonderful details thrown in from history.  The Haymarket Theatre is wonderfully described, and Voltaire and the enlightenment are touched upon briefly.  Other details of life in the time are also included, and they flow seamlessly with the story, as opposed to being forced in there to establish time and place.  As an aside, the book itself is beautiful designed in a way reminiscent of the era.

Overall, “Tangled Webs” is a disappointment, but I can say that I will read the next installment.  There are possibilities for it to become something great, and I look forward to seeing if there is an evolution in the storytelling.  This definitely isn’t a book for reluctant or impatient readers, but if you like historical novels or flowery prose,  it may be worth a try.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Minor Sexual Situations, Frequent Use of “Whore”, Mild Language, Violence

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