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Book Review of The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel
Have you ever looked at someone and noticed how familiar she looks? You KNOW you know her from somewhere…but where and how? Yeah. I’ve felt that, too! That’s what happens when Michael Wray visits Ballymacool House and Boarding School. He notices Brianna Kelly and knows she looks familiar, but he can’t put a finger on it…I loved The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel; it’s historical fiction, romance, and mystery all rolled in one!
Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.
When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.
Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.
My Book Review:
First, the cover art is gorgeous, don’t you think? I absolutely love the colors! Now let’s get to the story. Wow. Deibel had me hooked from the very beginning! Her writing style just sucks you in and doesn’t let go. She has beautifully crafted language and descriptions. I felt as if I were right there in Ballymacool House, and was a part of the story. Brianna’s struggles and heartaches became mine.
I loved the character development in this book; the characters make the story, for sure. Mistress Magee does not deserve her position. A teacher and caregiver should never treat her students, staff, or anyone the way Mistress Magee treats Brianna. She’s a terrible person! Mistress Magee comes across as mean, a bully, drunk on her own power, and vengeful. Despite her attitude, she still carries the title of head mistress of Ballymacool School. Boo!
Brianna, on the other hand, seems like a beautiful soul. She is the maid of Ballymacool. Brianna works hard, does her best, and tries to survive under the harsh conditions she is required to work in. Her daily constitutionals (walks outside) allow her a few minutes of sanity. Brianna has lived at the school since she was very young, and has collected many treasures over the years. She reminds me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid in that they both like to collect treasures they find on their adventures.
Michael seems like a great guy. Is he perfect? No. He makes mistakes, but he tries to do right by his family. Whereas Brianna has no social status, Michael hails from one of the most famous and wealthy families in the area. In an effort to help his family, Michael takes on the task of helping his unruly cousin Adeline who goes to school at Ballymacool House and Boarding School. He has NO idea what he’s getting himself into, but takes it all in stride and tries his best to make the situation better for everyone.
The relationship between Michael and Brianna is so sweet! It’s tender and genuine. Additionally, one of my favorite relationships is that between Brianna and Finnuala. Theirs is a deep friendship that goes back many years. I’d love to learn more about Finnuala and her story.
In addition to liking the character development, I also like the storyline. It has an evil villain, romance, treasure finding, mystery, overcoming hardship, looking out for those less fortunate, and friendship. The Maid of Ballymacool is well written, emotional, and such a great story! I loved it!
Content Rating: PG-13
- Profanity: None
- Intimacy: None (Brief kissing, cuddling.)
- Violence: Minor (Brief physical abuse, emotional abuse.)
Age Recommendation: YA (13-18 years-old) and up
My Rating: 4/5
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
1 thought on “The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel”
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Monica. It is intriguing that the story is set in Ireland and inspired by the Cinderella fairytale.