Review: The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton

The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton

The Absinthe Underground
Jamie Pacton
Peachtree Teen
Published February 6, 2024

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About The Absinthe Underground

Moulin Rouge meets Holly Black in a thrilling sapphic friends-to-lovers romantasy!

For Sybil Clarion, the Belle Époque city of Severon is a wild, romantic dream, filled with cafés, cabarets, and glittering nightclubs. Eager to embrace the city’s freedom after running away from home, she’s traded high-society soirées for empty pockets and barren cabinets. At least she has Esme, the girl who offered Sybil a home, and maybe—if either of them dared—something more.

Ever since Esme Rimbaud brought Sybil back to her flat, the girls have been everything to each other—best friends, found family, and secret crushes. While Esme would rather spend the night tinkering with her clocks and snuggling her cats, Sybil craves excitement and needs money. She plans to get both by stealing the rare posters that crop up around town and selling them to collectors. With rent due, Esme agrees to accompany—and more importantly protect —Sybil.

When they’re caught selling a poster by none other than its subject, Maeve, the glamorous girl doesn’t press charges. Rather, she invites Sybil and Esme to The Absinthe Underground, the exclusive club she co-owns, and reveals herself to be a Green Faerie, trapped in this world. She wants to hire thieves for a daring heist in Fae that would set her free, and is willing to pay enough that Sybil and Esme never have to worry about rent again. It’s too good of an offer to pass up, even if Maeve’s tragic story doesn’t quite add up, and even if Sybil’s personal ties to Fae could jeopardize everything she and Esme have so carefully built.

Jamie Pacton, author of THE VERMILLION EMPORIUM, dazzles in this lavish and decadent LGBTQ+ fantasy romance that will leave readers utterly enchanted!

My Review

I don’t know how Jamie Pacton does it, but both times I’ve read her fantasy books, I’ve fallen deeply into them and not surfaced until the story concluded. I love this immersive fantasy world inspired by 1890s Paris.

The chapters alternate point-of-view, flipping back and forth between Esme and Sybil’s perspectives. Esme is organized and orderly. Sybil is pure creative chaos, but somehow, the pair really works. I liked the differences between them and watching them navigate those differences in their friendship and as participants in a dangerous heist.

The girls pine for one another a lot throughout the story, which was okay, but sometimes felt a little bit distracting from the other elements. The romantic arc progressed perfectly, though. I loved that– it’s so sweet.

The Fae elements felt both magical and otherworldly, which I find I really like as well. The magic elements were used in very cool ways in connection with the plot.

All in all, this is another hit for me with this author. I think fans of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fae series or Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves books will very much enjoy this one.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Representation
Sybil, whose family is wealthy, has had past romantic relationships with people of all genders. Esme, who grew up poor and in an orphanage, would like a romantic relationship with a girl.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two girls. The story hints they slept together but does not show this.

Spiritual Content
Contains Fae and characters who can use magic.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. References to physical abuse. Two characters get into a fight, and one is stabbed with a knife.

Drug Content
Characters drink a strong alcoholic drink called absinthe.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own.

About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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