Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Synopsis: 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.
I loved Leslye Walton’s glorious debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, so I’ve been looking forward to The Price Guide to the Occult for the last year. While I didn’t think it was quite as magical, I think it’s a solid sophomore book.
What I loved about the previous book was the author’s exquisite and lush style of writing and storytelling and that’s definitely on display here. The protagonist, Nor, is someone many readers will relate to with her mix of vulnerability and steely determination. A word of warning, though it’s handled with care and sensitivity, self-harm is part of her story, so this could be a trigger for some. It’s an understandable outcome to a trauma in her past, and it’s written very realistically.
Some of the secondary characters aren’t quite as well-rounded. I loved Nor’s gruff yet loving grandmother, and her quirky best friend Savvy. The others, though, I just got to know enough, to want more, especially Nor’s sweet love interest.
The setting of the rainy Pacific Northwest is the perfect backdrop in terms of atmosphere, and the mythology behind Nor’s family as well as the plot is well written, albeit a little slow at times. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the ending and found it a little vague, but after reading the epilogue, I’m hopeful there may be a sequel.
Despite a few issues, I thoroughly enjoyed The Price Guide to the Occult and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a second book.