From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.
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.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a Physical copy of the book by Penguin India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I fell in love with Ms. Walton’s writing with The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (Read My Review) – one of the first books I ever reviewed at the start of my blogging days!
But with The Price Guide to the Occult, Ms. Walton pretty much shattered any and all sorts of expectations I might have had with her next offering.
This book follows the life of Nor Blackburn; a descendant of witches – she wants to live a quiet life; a life that is without ripples, especially considering the hurricane and storms her mother actually was – resulting in a traumatic childhood that made a little more than she would, impact on her mental health.
Complicating her life further is the Blackburn curse – their love lives are cursed to last only three days; three days that result in a child – and hence Nor’s reason for staying invisible, even if she has the same urges as other teenagers.
Everything Nor is working towards; turns upside down when her mother moves back into her life, even if it is indirectly. The gifts or “burden” as known by Blackburn Family is something that she works actively to ignore and sometimes even suppress.
I adored everything about this book – the plot, the writing style of the author, the characters and even the terrifying magical realism that Ms. Walton is slowly but surely being recognized for.
The story itself is told in the most perfect way – first laying down the foundation of the Blackburn family, with their ancestor’s – Rona Blackburn on the island and then moving to the present with Nor’s life taking the forefront!
Everything in this book worked in perfect balance – it is at times, terrifying, and others, hauntingly beautiful in its depiction of magic and how it can affect the feelings of people all around them – but with the way the book ended, I am really hoping that there is going to be a sequel; because I really, really need to know what happens next!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .5