THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL, by Jennifer Deibel, Fleming H. Revell Company, Feb. 21, 2023, Paperback, $16.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult fiction)
A chance discovery changes a young maid’s life forever in The Maid of Ballymacool, a romance by Jennifer Deibel.
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. —Synopsis provided by Fleming H. Revell Company
Set in 1930s Ireland, The Maid of Ballymacool is a new take on Cinderella that ends the way you’d expect, but also offers an enjoyable mystery along the way.
The Maid of Ballymacool features three main characters in the form of Brianna, Michael and Maureen Magee, headmistress of Ballymacool House and Boarding School. Brianna is sweet and caring, and everyone seems to like her except Magee. She bears her burdens and has accepted her lot in life. Michael is strong and smart and quick to address anything he feels is unjust. He’s the knight in shining armor, you’d expect him to be. Magee is bitter and angry, but when you get to see deeper into her story, she becomes the most complex and compelling of the three.
Author Jennifer Deibel’s writing is warm and confident. She does a fine job transporting readers to Ireland. Beyond the setting, Deibel’s descriptions of historical events are accessible and blend well within the story. And her use of Irish idioms along with a glossary are a nice touch.
Readers will notice that religion is present throughout The Maid of Ballymacool, and while it mostly feels authentic, I had to wonder how a maid who has no free time of her own came to have such a strong foundation. No one ever visits church, which seems a bit odd given the location and time period.
The Maid of Ballymacool is a fast, entertaining read that should appeal to readers who enjoy “chaste” romances. It’s suitable for fans of young adult, new adult, and adult fiction.
Copyright © 2023 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jessica. Deibel’s writing is warm and confident. I enjoyed the setting as well.