My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This e-galley was provided by Netgalley and Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.
I’ll be honest when I say I truly didn’t know what to expect with this book. But I am a fan of Kiersten White, so I thought I’d give it a shot. And I was very, very pleasantly surprised. This book transcends its YA genre, combining masterful prose and beautiful illustrations to tell the story of a battle against an ancient evil.
Cora and Minnie are sisters, and they assist their mother in running the local boardinghouse. Their lives are simple until a boy named Arthur shows up, who is fiercely protective of the sisters and may or may not be family. Thomas and Charles are brothers, and they’ve been “exiled” to the boarding house where their paths collide with Cora, Minnie, and Arthur. Strange things are happening. They’re in danger.
The written story alternates between five different perspectives, and the author manages to pull this off really well. The exploration of each of the narrators adds depth. It is beautifully written.
The story was whimsical, sinister, dark, strange, and intriguing. The reader must put together the clues alongside the characters, and so it is a difficult book to put down. It combines magic, mystery, romance, and adventure. However, I sometimes felt the conflict itself was a bit vague, and the reader doesn’t quite know what the antagonist is trying to achieve, and why.
I think it’s the illustrations that compensate for what is vague or unexplored in the text. At first, the illustrations don’t make much sense. The reader doesn’t understand the connection between the written story and the illustrations until much later in the book. The illustrations do not depict what is happening in the written sections of the novel, but tell their own story. While I thought this would annoy me, I realized it’s actually quite genius to let the reader figure it all out himself. It was so interesting to go back to the beginning and flip through the pictures after I’d finished the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would definitely recommend it.
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