book review

The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton | ARC-Review


So far, I’ve loved all of Jamie pacton’s books I’ve read. It started out with her debut, Kit Sweetly, which is one of my all time favourite books. I also loved her first fantasy novel, The Vermilion Emporium. I was very excited to get approved for an ARC of The Absinthe Underground which is set in the same universe as The Vermilion Emporium. It promises a sapphic love story, a heist and fairies. Was I too excited for The Absinthe Underground or did it meet my expectations?

What is it about?


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, who means more to her than even a comfortable night in.
When they’re caught selling a poster by none other than its glamorous subject, Maeve, she 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.

the absinthe underground

Book: The Absinthe Underground | Author: Jamie Pacton | Publisher: PeachTree | Published: 06.02.2026 | Pages: 299 | Genre: YA fantasy, romance | rep: sapphic main couple and side couple

My Opinion


Thanks to the publisher who sent me this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

I have to be honest, I didn’t know The Absinthe Underground was set in the same universe as The Vermilion Emporium. How have I not realized? But I was very positively surprised to be back in Severon. Following Sybil and Esme was a wonderful experience. We meet them when they go about a usual quiet evening. Esme with her clocks and her cats, immersed in in her work yet aware of Sybil being restless and full of adventure next to her. The two of them are very different characterwise but that makes them a good fit.
Where Sybil is adventurous and impulsive, Esme is thoughtful and calm. Sybil gets them into situations™, Esme gets them through and Sybil manages to save the day in the end.
I liked how they don’t change in their cores for the duration of the story but become more as they realize important things about their world – and the fact that there are more worlds out there. They learn to treasure what they have and finally act on their feelings for each other. The two of them have already been best friends and seeing the romance between unfurling was beautiful. The looks here and there, the subtle touches, the constant thoughts. The romance had a prominent space in the novel and I enjoyed it a lot!

I also liked the heist a lot. Even though some things later revealed were pretty obvious to me. Some parts went very quickly and too smoothly and something about the heist itself seemed suspicious. But I loved how it all was described. I really liked the tasks in Severon which already showed the resourcefulness of the girls, especially Sybil. But I also loved to read their journey into Fae and how magically it was written; there were the devious fairies but also some surprises as well as different kinds of magic to reckon with.

I do think this book could have been longer. Some of the things, especially when it comes to the heist, seemed rushed and quickly dealt with. I would have loved some more details, maybe some more drama even.

But I was so happy to be back with Jamie Pacton’s beautiful, slightly metaphorical writing that set an amazing scene and built such a perfect atmosphere for the story that I was so sucked into The Absinthe Underground, I still loved the book a lot and would highly recommend it despite the very few issues I had with it!

And for a last point, I really need to mention the cover. I mean, excuse me? How dare you be so gorgeous? I’ve had heart eyes over this cover ever since I first laid eyes on it!



queer romance | heist stories | 19th century Paris | fairies | cats | friends to lovers | historical urban fantasy | portal fantasy | magic | thieves


What’s your favourite heist story? What was the last sapphic book you’ve read? What’s your favourite bookish universe to return to?

Until next time,

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