Title: The Price Guide to the Occult
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Fiction
Publication date: March 13th, 2018
The Blackburn women are cursed. Ever since the extraordinary witch Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island centuries ago and was shunned by the eight “original” settlers, Blackburn witches have been doomed to carry out a brief whirlwind affair with a descendant of the Original Eight. The vengeful curse, however, had unintended side effects: it diluted the Blackburns’ supernatural powers. That’s perfectly all right with seventeen-year-old Nor Blackburn. All she wants is a quiet, unremarkable life—her powers are blissfully unexceptional, her love life pretty much nonexistent. Nor hopes the curse has played itself out through enough generations that she’ll finally be spared the drama. But when a mysterious book comes out promising to cast any spell for the right price, Nor senses a dark storm headed straight for Anathema—and straight for her.
“Maybe they’d be lucky this time? But as soon as Nor allowed that thought to comfort her, she remembered this: no one in the Blackburn family had ever been considered lucky.”
Oh, this is one of my mayor disappointments of this year, even though we’re in March. I can already tell. I was so excited to read this book because The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was one of my favorite books, so I cannot tell you how happy I was when I knew she was coming out with another book. And I’m so thankful with the publisher for giving me an ARC of this novel so I could read it.
It had an interesting premise, but I was very disappointed when I finished it, because not only it didn’t fulfill my expectations, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the novel at all. The thing is, I couldn’t help but compare it with her previous book. I tried not to, but there were times where something that I adored about her debut novel was lacking in this one.
“It was black magic, wicked and terrible, and as Rona learned all too well, black magic always comes at a wicked and terrible price.”
I don’t know why but I didn’t like the writing in The Price Guide to the Occult as much. It was much simpler, and not as whimsical as I expected to be. Maybe it had to do a bit with the story that she was narrating, but it wasn’t as good. And something I also noticed was that nothing really interesting happened at all. It started really good and mysterious, and I enjoyed the path it was supposed to take, but it turned out to be a very plain story about witches.
The main character Nor, had no development at all. She was exactly the same at the very beginning and at the end of the novel, and having in mind everything that she went through in the book, I don’t know, I guess I was expecting a much more complex main character. The side characters were thrown there just so Nor could sometimes interact with them, and nothing else. I didn’t care about any of them, and that was a major let down for me.
Also the romance was very weird and happened a bit fast. I didn’t like how it was done, because I feel it didn’t add anything to the story. It came basically out of nowhere, and there weren’t enough interactions between both characters for a relationship to start.
“He laughed, and it was like a warm beam of sunshine on a cool morning. At that moment, Nor wanted nothing more than to make Reed Oliveira laugh like that again. And it terrified her.”
The ending was anticlimactic and quite simple, honestly. It didn’t have much to be with the prologue where we were told about the curse, how it worked and how it affected the two families. In some way, it did have a bit to do with that, but it all happened so fast and it was super convenient that I didn’t like it.
And like I mentioned above, nothing happened throughout the entire novel. I already know that magical realism stories tend to be a bit slow when it comes to the pacing, but thinking about it now, there was nothing interesting that was added to the story. It was so slow and then the end happened so suddenly that it made the whole story a bit unrealistic.
Overall, I think this novel had a very interesting premise, but apart from that, nothing was remarkable. Neither the characters nor the plot were intriguing, and it wasn’t the story I was hoping to read.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.
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