[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
I really liked the beginning—the prologue had a sort of “fairy tale” touch, introducing as it did the “legend” of Rona Blackburn and what happened with the first settlers of Anathema Island. However, while I kept liking the setting of a small island, fairly isolated from the world and losing itself in the fog as the danger approaches, I had more trouble with the story after that. I think I can chalk that to the following points:
- Nor makes such efforts to remain inconspicuous and not be noticed that she’s not a very interesting character in general. We know that she likes running, and that she’s had trouble with self-harm, but the latter was more brushed upon in a way that didn’t make it seem so bad, which in itself is… bad, I guess. She’s mostly passive, doesn’t speak of her fears with other characters, even when she knows something is coming. By the time she woke up, I had lost interest in her. And no other characters jumped to the forefront either. Except for Judd. Judd was cool.
- The villain was just a villain. We’re told that what she did, she did for love, but it’s fairly obvious that she was never really in love and just wanted something she couldn’t have. There’s also no explanation as to how she came upon her powers: the means are known, not the cause. Same with Nor’s ability: is it because she’s the ninth daughter? Does the curse change after a while?
- The romance. How can I put this… Maybe it’s high time to stop putting romantic love in YA just because it’s YA and romance is a trope of YA and everyone expects it, but 99% of the time it’s not handled well? The love interest and the romantic subplot were bland at best, and the -second- love interest just came out of the blue as insta-love, and yet Nor is all about “I’m dangerous so I should put an end to it”, which in the end amounts to much ado about nothing. It’s not like it was essential to the plot, really.
- The writing itself was nothing exceptional. Often a character’s name would be used as sentence subject several times within the same paragraph, when it was obvious this very character was the subject all along. So it felt repetitive.
Conclusion: A very good start for me, that went downhill quickly after that. 1.5 stars.