Death, princesses, assassins | Short Reviews

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I really don’t see the so many impressed (4.36 average on goodsreads) reviewers side on this, because there’s an interesting premise behind this dystopian world, where Scythe’s have to choose who dies because everyone’s immortal. But it’s nothing … new? at the same time?
The ending was great and clever, I guess.
Everything up ’til that point were pretty expected, it all written with a certain coldness that fit the systematic view of death of the story, but also made it somewhat boring to read. And if you want to go philosophical – why not go deeply philosophical instead of just sometimes dropping questions on how this view of death changes this society? and then not going into any real debate?
Overall I’m not that impressed and found it quite boring, while certainly it being a well-composed book. Is this a side-effect of growing up reading Jostein Gaarder’s books? I’m truly curious about the fascination with this book.

The Selection (#1-3) by Kiera Cass

This YA royal series always sounded like something I didn’t want to read, from what I heard of a whiny main character in the competition to become the new princess. But then I was in the mood for something light-hearted and gave it a try. It’s so much more cut-throat than I expected. So fast-paced, but also well written and more and more feminist as it progresses, with the girls finally bonding together. I truly enjoyed seeing this actual reality TV series, much the Hunger Games vibes here, with its cute dresses turn into assassins attacking regularly and then our dear red-haired main character America getting her claws into power and turning the whole thing upside down. It’s any other revolution YA series packaged nicely so that younger girls would pick it up. It’s not perfect, this somewhat luke-warm romance is a huge part of it, but I enjoyed it.

Deadly Class Comics by Rick Remender vol. 1-9

I talked briefly about the TV series adaptation of Deadly Class in this post, and how it looks like dark academia teenage series with its boarding school, found-family trope and ‘assassins training’, then turns into an epic blood bath. Well, let me tell you – this comic series is so filled with blood and horror as it gets so much worse after where the one-season TV series cuts off. Definitely search up trigger warnings before getting into it. But it’s also so awesome. My thought-process reading this was something like;

Oh shit it’s so good!!! How the fuck do you kill people in that many different ways? Is it okay to like this? AHh I quickly sped through that part, I really don’t like seeing eye-balls outside of the body. I have to stop posting on tumblr about this now, people will think I’m crazy. Ok, I like it again now. You can’t really kill of all the characters and then expect us to care about the new ones you introduce with a brief backstory now, can you? Even if they’re interesting enough, fool me once, twice – you know how it goes.

Truly it became really boring around issue six, picked up again for a while and was truly boring when I came to the latest issue nine. But all credit to the creators, it was truly amazing work. Would suggest people to read the first few issues and then try the TV series, but you’re warned.

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson | Book Review

Pages: 352

Genre: young adult fantasy, norse mythology

Synopsis

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three stars

I picked this book up because it was set in Norway (my country) and, most importantly, it dealt with norse mythology, as the Valkyrie is female creatures that choose which warriors die or live in battle.

The way I found some of the plot-structure lacking reminded me of fairytale retellings that bases themselves too much about pointing out characters the reader knows and letting what you know or don’t know about these write most of their character, instead of actually setting the feeling and motives themself. Which meant that I thought a lot of the norse mythology parts were missing in this book, strange for a book that’s supposedly all about the valkyrie. None of the gods have motives, or a personality that fit with their norse mythology stories. They don’t act the way they do in the ‘historical’ stories. Which is okay if that’s an obvious choice made in the book, but it didn’t seem to be. The main character even pointed to history when trying to learn about them. It was more about trying to fit these gods into the ‘bad guy’, ‘helper’ and ‘savior’ roles already made, which hurt my head a bit.

It’s a good coming-of-age story, but pretty basic except for the god-stuff. Falling in love with your brother’s friend is a well-used, great plotline. But trying to write something epic and a YA story in 350 pages, without using any space in the beginning to flesh out the characters, it was bound to have faults.

The ending was impressive in comparison to the rest, but overall it didn’t pull itself together enough for me. The norwegian setting parts of this book were more on-point, which I appreciated, it’s obvious the author has some familiarity.

Introverts Graphic Novels | Short Reviews

Are you in a reading rut? Bored in quarantine? Need memes to send to your friends about being bored in quarantine? Maybe even something to send to friends as a nudge towards staring into the darkness of depression, but not in a way that’s too concerning, but maybe they’ll check up on you more? Okay, that last one was too specific, and most likely the best thing is to just be honest with friends and all that, but it might have been what this post was born from. Anyway! Here’s some good graphic novels aimed at introverted people and perfect now that we all were forced to be more introverted during quarantine.

Emotions Explained with Buff Dudes by Andrew Tsyaston

I know this comic writer as Shen Comix on instagram, where you get a sneak-peak of what types of comics this whole collection is about. But it was my favourite of these ones for many reasons, it was both very cute illustration style, most relatable to me and it had worked well as a collection, without having the different comics be to similiar!

I’ll give it 5/5 stars. Definitely something I will pick up again and again when I need a pick-me-up. Funny comics explaining the weird happenings in life. “Life be like dat” in graphic novel form, if that makes sense.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

I like and relate to this girl’s introverted ft. bookworms story, with an interesting illustration style. I’m not that big of a fan of something leaning so heavily into being ‘introverted’ to the point where it seems less of a personality and more of an anxiety thing, but I’m not going to get into a discussion on that. It doesn’t really stand out among these others, except by trying a bit too hard to be relatable in every aspect. 3/5 stars.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This is also a comic series that has lived on the internet as long as I can recall, without me realizing that it’s one person behind this style. Here’s the blog it was born from! It’s just so smartly written, and matched my humor great. It doesn’t shy away from the memoir/darker aspects dealing with depression especially, without overpowering the humor or taking away from anything, a balance which I really respect. The drawing style makes it feel like anyone could do this, but it takes real talent and craft to be this good. 5/5 stars.

There Is No Right Way to Meditate by Yumi Sakugawa

It’s not life-changing or very profound or even very helpful. But it is interesting to look at, a reminder and cute. Maybe being a reminder of what meditation can do for you is enough for me to deem this graphic novel practical in these times with its short colorful guides of genuine tips to practice peace among other such lists. Favourite parts were illustrations of anxiety as a rock, just laying on you. 4/5 stars.

Honorable mentions

Other graphic novels that I’ve read that is similiar to these ones are “I think I am in friend love with you” also by Yumi Sakugawa, and Sarah’s Scribbles vol. 1, 2 & 3. All of my reviews on them are linked. I almost forgot the amazing “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by Jonny Sun!

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my tumblr & twitter

Also I’m doing mentally good for the first week in about two months. It’s a relief. Hope you are all safe!

Pirates & Sirens: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo | Book Review

Genre: young adult fantasy, mermaids/sirens

Pages: 340

Synopsis

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy? 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three stars

I’m still not quite cold enough for the ocean that birthed me.

For a the little mermaid retelling with lots of pirates of the caribbean vibes mixed in, this was a good story. It was not as dark as it promised, however. Some parts are truly taken out of the little mermaid and the evil Ursula. I felt the story could’ve gone way deeper than it did on the abuse Lira goes through, for example it shows in a superficial, but at the same time well-placed way, why her cousin is the only siren left that Lira cares about. At the same time her beliefs, moral or confidence is never a question, the way you would’ve thought under that type of abuse. I recently read “The Midnight Lie” by Marie Rutkoski and I think that book deserved an extra star just from the mind-twisting that results from the similiar abuse the main characters had to endure there. It’s great to have a fierce female main character, who is truly deadly, but I really think a book should just go full out and not soften her, whether it’s because the plot requires it or fear of making her unlikable.

So what’s left is action and a bit of (unecessary honestly) romance, and a genuinely cool story with pirates, royals and mermaid-like sirens and horror-like mermaids. It all builds up towards this big endgame and destroying the enemy by using one item, which I was really worried about, but this standalone managed to finish it off with a good finale. Not that it wasn’t boring, but it felt epic enough. I genuinely liked the characters, and it was those who carried the story through.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, but it’s missing a layer somehow. Both the characters, the plot and the writing is very straight-forward, which makes it an easy read, but also predictable. Definitely some enemies-to-lovers vibes going on as well, which I’ve truly realized is a trope I’m loving recently. In this book I would’ve been very happy if they’d just stayed soulmates though, and never introduced romance into it. It just didn’t really fit.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks | Book Review

A long time ago, when this kid just had a book tumblr, a review of Of Poseidon by Anna Banks was written. I only noticed I hadn’t posted it here because I was collecting mermaid & siren books for a new post.

The Syrena Legacy #1

Pages: 320

Genre: young adult fantasy

Rating out of five: four stars

This book was an easy-read and very likable, with interesting type of sirens. Still, this book is not like I thought it would be going into it.

What this book is not: “Of Poseidon” is not a story of a stuck-up rich boy meeting the one perfect naïve girl of his dreams and showing her his world and then, SURPRISE, he is a mermaid prince (or siren, since supposedly mermaids are too normal) and they live happily ever after.

What this book actually is: A stubborn and awkward teenage boy (Galen) working as a fish-human ambassador, which leads to him seeking out an equally stubborn girl (Emma) and showing her she is neither shy, nor entirely human. Along with his sister, princess Rayna and her kind-of fiancé Toraf, they try to help Emma figure out what kind of creatures exist in this world and what she really is. This leads to Emma hitting more faces with her fists than people hitting on each other (at least at first). Is not that new and wonderful?

The characters (are wonderful)

Emma is clumsy, a book blogger, stubborn and human (she thinks). She also got a bit of a temperament, even if she thinks of herself as sweet and shy. What’s more important is how she does not tolerate bullshit, which helps in fighting Galen’s teasing and the male dominated world the sirens seems to run. She and Rayna is a kick-ass team, even if they go out of their way to annoy each other. I think that is an important note to take from this book, how they stand together when they need to. Can never have enough girl power.

“Basically, everyone thinks–knows–how sweet I am. (Emma)
Emma, you threw my sister [Rayna] through hurricane-proof glass.” 
(Galen)

The girl-power is needed because Toraf and Galen are both idiots. Funny, sympathetic idiots, but still horrible. However, that does not stop me from liking them (I think), but the idiocy is definitely something I hope they will get over when they start acknowledging how there are another world around them.

Definitely a story that will stick with me, and I am looking forward to reading the next book of the trilogy. I love reading about sea-creatures such as the syrenas, especially in summer.

Borderline by Mishell Baker | Review

The Arcardia Project #1 (out of three books)

Pages: 390

Genre: Urban fantasy, fae, mental health & disability, bisexual main character

Synopsis

A year ago Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.

For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star, who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.

No pressure. 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

It’s difficult to review this book fairly, because I respect and admire the setup of it, thinking it had so much promise. Then something happened in the middle, I’m still unsure of exactly what, that made it go downhill. And the ending just highlighted those bad choices.

I’ve looked at other reviews enough to realize almost no one have the same issues with this book as me. The writing flows really good, and it made it seem to much shorter than nearly four hundred pages. I can’t say anything about the accuracy of the portrayal of the borderline main character, but I’ve seen others saying it was well done, and the author draws from own experiences. It’s obvious that the main character does certain things because of her mental illness, and the narration makes that very clear in a way I like, referring to borderline people as it happens. But then there’s enough undiscussed things that makes the character unlikable; like Millie casually thinking and saying racist things out of the blue and having a meltdown and yelling at all the people she’s come to known. It’s even mentioned by another character in the story:

“I don’t mind people being crazy,” he said. “I understand rage and depres- sion and saying stuff you regret. But when I do it, I’m just a dumb dog snap- ping his teeth. What I don’t like about you is that even when you’re being nice, even when things are good, you’re checking out people’s weaknesses, storing things up to hurt them with later. You can’t be trusted. Not ever.”

I really liked how “simple” of a urban fantasy plot this book had, because it was done so well and given new dimensions to explore with each character’s background and small elements it brought, like if they were up to do magic or not depending on how in control of their mental state they were. And I didn’t need to like Millie. But when the side characters starts to feel very one-dimensional and stereotypical – through her eyes – you kind of have lost the ability to cheer for anyone in this book, and then lost interest in how it ends. I don’t know if this is purposefully unreliable narration or not, but it doesn’t really matter because it creates the same issue. Maybe if it had happened earlier in this book, I could’ve reconnected with the characters, but I realize it’s not easy to write a book like this.

There were a lot of awesome small things as well; the bonding happening when someone found their soulmate, the setting of the magical bar. I especially love the quirky dialogue, like when a fae asks if Millie would like to come in for “sex and oranges”. How mental health and disability was such a part of the story, but at the same time not defining. Millie’s part of the story made sense, she was someone who was well-equipped and drew the story forward. Caryl, the young leader, was definitely someone who grew on you as you learned the reasons behind her behaviour, and I really felt connected to her. It just bothers me how it all falls together towards the end – I think it would’ve been better if it was just Millie being allowed to create chaos, but instead the story needs her to wrap it up and win, meaning her mental illness gets the best of her and before having any time to regroup she’s back to clean up and take on the bad guys. Which sounds awesome, but really didn’t work for this story that started out so realistic (despite the magical elements).

I will definitely read the next book. And I recommend this one; it’s worth a shot and a lot of people loved it.

Short Reviews: Fencing & Geeks

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

DNF at 25%. I went into this book wanting to love it, but while I’m a huge nerd I don’t immediately relate to this type of geek culture, especially if it’s (this I’ve just realized is a huge pet peeve) based on a made-up fandom. The protagonist seem great and the anxiety so well portrayed, I just didn’t like the writing, which would’ve continued to be a problem. Would still recommend others to give it a try and make up their own mind.

The main character is bisexual, also has character who have asperger’s & dealing with anxiety, and queer love. Ownvoices for anxiety and Asperger’s.

Fence vol. 1-3 by C. S. Pacat

I was very intrigued by the characters, the sport aspect and the conflict. I wanted to love it so much. But then the graphic novels just delivered a row of fencing matches, in beautiful art style, but with little other excitement. There were mentions of stakes and motivation, but in the end, for someone who isn’t into fencing, they’re just two people lunging until one lose. And it’s not like it was given extensive back stories on each of the players, so you’re really rooting for them. In that way it felt like a «final tournament» to something we’ve not been there for the beginning of? What am I missing? Why is everyone liking this? The gay vibes are great, of course. I just wanted to know more about the characters, so I could follow this with some more interest.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim | Audiobook Review

Genre: YA fantasy

Pages: 385

Synopsis

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Audiobook review

Narrated by Kim Mai Guest: the soft voice fits the protagonist so well and the storytelling was amazing, like the slight change of her voice as the protagonists tried to mask as a boy. It seemed like a difficult task and she nailed it.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: three

From about 30% in to 70% in, I was considering not picking this book back up. It just lacked something for me, that drive that makes me want to know more about how it’s going to end for the characters.

I think the publisher selling this book as the crossway between Project Runway and Mulan isn’t right for this book. It’s definitely got elements of both of those, with there being a competition to be the imperial tailor (instantly reminding me of the assassin competition in Throne of Glass) and the protagonist having to mask as a boy to be able to participate and restore her family’s honor. The problem is that Mulan’s story is so much better in every way. The romance is better, the bravery and single-mindedness of Mulan is better, it’s more exciting to read about fighting than tailoring and the training and close quarters leads naturally to more close-calls about Mulan’s identity. All the humor is stripped from this book. The short insults between the protagonist Maia and Edan tries to make up for it, but they’re more annoying and makes them seem more like siblings than romantically interested. I really disliked that romance, even though it’s not as forced or badly handled as it could’ve been.

I like the characters of Maia, as I like Eden in himself, but as a protagonist she doesn’t move the plot forward. It’s okay to be inexperienced and elegant, but she seems to be able to take tough choices like dress up as a guy and risk her life, and then falls into this role of needing guidance on much smaller issues. I think it’s given too much thought that she can’t be a much better tailor than old men with long careers and be able to figure things out on her own, but as a consequence Edan and the masters are guiding her every move. She never has that breaking point where she sits down and worried about how to do something, the solution is always given to her. This book just lacks that level of conflict, there’s this big threat of being killed hanging over her, but everything else goes her way. And in that it becomes predictable.

This book has a shift about 60% in where Maia goes on a journey and it becomes more magical and has that classical fantasy journey to gather supplies. Still she’s being led around by Edan, but she’s also has to find strength within herself to complete the tasks and FINALLY we’re seeing some character development. *imagine me raising my hands in victory while reading those parts* At the end of the book I nearly convinced myself I liked it, hadn’t it been so slow and lacking in the beginning. While I feel it gives the book a tougher starting point, I really like the tailor aspects and the descriptions of her craft. Sometimes I felt the garments wasn’t described well enough, but at the same time the competition took forever and became boring. Remember the parts of Project Runway with the judges critique that you skip?

I would recommend to give this book a try if you really want to.

Feelings reading this book: (yes, we’re bringing this back again) frustration, oh calm meditational stitching, frustration, bored.

Never Let Me Go | Audiobook Review

I really had hope of liking this book, but it just did not work out at all.

Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary, (a bit of sci-fi dystopia so small it shouldn’t be mentioned in fear of getting your hopes up)

Synopsis

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

The audiobook

Made by Faber & Faber Audio. The narrator was great, slipping you right into that british boarding school with lots of descriptive language. Hearing it out loud does make my annoyances with the writing more prominent as the book progressed. The voice given to the boy Tommy was so annoying and douchey as well, and made it subconsciously hard to like him. Took me a while to figure that one out. It’s a good audiobook, if you would prefer that.

My thoughts

three out of five stars

This was promoted to me as with an dystopian vibe, or at least set in an alternate reality where things are pretty similar to ours, but not quite. At the very least – that there would be mystery! WRONG. It’s as british boarding school children without parents and a few questions that I’ve ever gotten, but without the curiousity to figure out the answers because they all have a great time generally. And then it moves over to other settings as they grow up, but mostly it’s not that different from like a very good orphanage program. I feel tricked, and almost gave it two stars just out of that.

My thoughts about one hour into this book:

I often think that books should come with a “how it will make you feel”, as it’s just as or more important than the synopsis. The beginning of this book was pure mimring about the past, someone telling a story of how things once was with a mystery of why attached to it. And that was perfect for my mood. It was spring break, which for Norway means everyone that is able to is at cabins at the mountain and I was sitting outside just beneath them, the first week of real sun and warmth allowing it. I had time, even for a slow-paced book.

Me halfway into the book:

I’m desperate for this pace to get quicker, someone tell me if any mystery or society-critical questions is coming up at all. I’m so bored.

Me after finishing the book:

It just never delivered.

There’s lots of reviews I saw that was like “oh no, don’t read reviews it might spoil the mystery!” WHAT MYSTERY? This is not the book for anyone who have read fantasy or sci-fi.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

Or even watched Orphan Black. That is one tv series that takes the concept this plot completely misses to act out. This is one of the books that thinks it’s smart, without really coming up with any critical questions or message about society. The writing of the plot had one goal – to leave out as much as possible – so that it would have enough secrets to be interpreted as a mystery. And the “kids” get to ask all their questions at the end to their former teachers, about everything that’s kept from the characters and more so the reader, and it just isn’t satisfying or revealing at all. Overall, I liked the actual writing, although I don’t think it’s everyone’s taste as the main character is really observant and telling the story like a fake memoir.

The beginning is lovely, but then the plot never unfolds with the message it claims to have and the “mystery” doesn’t hold up.

The Wicked Deep | Book Review

Genre: fantasy, witches, small-town

Pages: 310

Synopsis

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.

My thoughts

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.