Genre: fantasy, witches, small-town
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow… Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
Rating out of five: three
Let’s start with how great the writing was! I really liked it, simple and elegant. Right at the beginning the story really defines itself, the magical realism vibes associated with small-town witches. The setting of the town Sparrow is great and the myth built up around it. The protagonist Penny lives on an island separated from the town, and it really felt like a special place. Much of this laid on the writing, but also the character and the mysteries of the plot being built up and the secrets of the town.
Intertwined with Penny’s story is the story of the three Swan sisters being accused of being witches two hundred years prior, after arriving into the town and how the city goes after them. The city are still haunted by their murders, especially during the Swan festival in the summer.
My big problem with the story was the twist and how it didn’t work because it completely broke with the expectations built up, not just plot-wise, but the characters suddenly changed. In a way that immediately made the story lose its magic. The mystery/plot-twist was maybe resolved to quickly? The pace really changed? It can’t really be character development if we don’t see the development? Looking at you, Bo. (I really adore that name btw.) I could see the twist coming, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting, because people were acting really weird to the point where what was supposed to be “foreshadowing” really bothered me as flaws while reading the book.
If you’re looking for a great summer read about small-town witches and a bit of mystery, with cute characters and settings like an island, lighthouse and bonding over an abandoned orchard being brought back to life – I would recommed to give it a try. But it will be very taste-based how people like it, especially the ending.
SPOILERS: the moment I knew the ending
Or plot-twist, rather.
“It’s our town’s penance,” I say. “We drowned three girls in the ocean two centuries ago, and we’ve suffered for it every summer since. We can’t change it.” “But why don’t people just move away?” “Some have, but the families who’ve been here the longest choose to stay. Like it’s an obligation they must endure.”
Penny just never associated herself with the town or its “obligation” in such a strong “we” kind of way. Having her established as such a strong character voice early on, which also was much more likeable than what she became, was a problem as well as what I adored about the book.
The fear rimming our eyes. But if he knew the truth—what I see what I peer through Olivia Greene, the creature hidden inside. If he knew the things that haunt my waking dreams. If he saw what I saw. If he saw. He’d leave this is- land and never come back. He’d leave this town. And I don’t want to be alone on the island again. There have only ever been ghosts here, shadows of people that once were, until he arrived. I can’t lose him. So I don’t tell him.