Fantasy (Teen), YA Fiction

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton [eARC review]

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to read this book, with its magick and witches. I’m always on the lookout for stories about the supernatural and the occult. Here is my review:

Summary (Goodreads): 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.

Review: This book had a lot of ups and downs for me. I’m still unsure about if I liked this book or not, but hopefully I can work through my feelings in this book! TW: There are many instances of self-harm that are mentioned in this book so please be aware!

The novel starts off narrating the story of Rona Blackburn in a textbook-sorta way. And I loved it. It was so quirky and set the tone for the serious nature of this story. It made me really excited for the way the story would unfold.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn’t hold as much promise.

The story is told entirely from Nor’s perspective. But Nor is really not that interesting. She has no real personality and the way things are narrated from her perspective is a little … boring. I wasn’t necessarily hoping for a quirky character but I wanted Nor to be unique. Instead, she easily morphs into the stereotypical quiet girl who likes a guy but doesn’t think she’s good for him for various reasons. It was a bit disappointing.

I also found the story to be quite confusing at times. There are a lot of characters and names thrown in and it isn’t always explained right away who they are and what their role is, which made it really difficult to keep things straight. When you eventually do find out how everyone is related, it makes a lot of sense but getting to that point is challenging.

There were also way too many areas where the plot wasn’t developed enough for my liking. Half of the problems occurred because Nor didn’t say anything to anyone. While this is a common trope to see in many novels, not just YA fiction, in the case of this story, I felt that Nor telling people what was happening to her would have actually upped the ante and led to more action-packed events. Instead, the book just moves slowly until the final climactic scene at the end.

The ending was actually my favourite part. There was the action and the strength that I wanted to see. However, the slow burn to get to this point just wasn’t worth it for me. I also didn’t like how the author tried to do a love triangle thing; it is one of my pet peeves and it really wasn’t necessary here. I did like the epilogue that was put in, as it gives the story future directions.

In the end, this wasn’t my favourite read of the month. It had a really dragging plot and a character that lacked personality. However, the ending was quite strong and the epilogue piqued my interest. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars, rounded to 3!


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