Before I begin: this book is brimming with self harm. It is on nearly every page. If this is something that you struggle with then skip this book and consider heading here instead.
I’m not even sure where I acquired this book. Quite possibly, it was for FrighteningGoodReads2018 since the book was published in October, 2018. And, I continued to be determined to work though that physical TBR so I pulled it off the shelf to kick off this year’s FGR. Just look at this glorious cover!
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness. Goodreads.
I’m not sure what I expected from this book but I know what I want more of: Nor’s best friend Savvy. Savvy was my favorite part of this book. We all deserve a colorful friend who ignores the secrets you keep and sacrifices the glory of Halloween to celebrate your birthday. This was a fantastic character.
On the other hand, I had trouble becoming interested or attached to Nor. She is fundamentally disconnected from her world. She revolves around things instead of interacting with them, including the boy she has a crush on and another she hates. Still, she had enough magnetism that I cared instinctively what happened to her. Or perhaps I was just curious what would happen to Nor because the arrival of her mother, Fern, was so terrifying.
Similarly, there were characters that didn’t get enough backstory. The boys in Nor’s world, Gage and Reed, have almost no dimension. But her Grandmother, Judd, is a wonderful character. A pipe smoking Giantess with the “burden” of healing, Judd is the mother Nor deserved. But Fern is what she received. And Fern is the scariest mother I have encountered in fiction in years.
Eventually, I spent enough time trying to figure out what was happening that I felt myself slowly pulled into the story until I could not stop until I reached the end. And even with some of the pace and character issues I have remarked upon, this story was chilling and consuming.
This is a perfect witchy story of the price some will pay and the lengths others will go in order to make their dreams a reality.
Tell me, please!
Do you ever love a cover even more after you read the book?