Published: August 6, 2019
Read as: Audiobook from Audible
Average Goodreads rating: 4.02
My rating: 2
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. (from Goodreads)
Flushed with starlight and moonlight drowned,
All the dreamers are castle-bound.
At midnight’s stroke, we will unwind,
Revealing fantasies soft or unkind.
Show me debauched nightmares or sunniest daydreams.
Come not as you are but as you wish to be seen.
This book was one of my highly anticipated reads for 2019. Spookiness by the sea, mysterious deaths, a touch of fantasy? That just screams fantastic fall read to me! I did get an eARC of this book back during the early summer but ended up not reading it. This is a story meant for cooler weather, creeping fog, and long dark nights not sweltering summer days.
In my mind, this book can be broken into three distinct parts. Each of these thirds, I think, have vastly different feels and themes. We will start with part one which is easily my favorite.
The first section of this book absolutely blew me away. I loved the spooky vibes, getting to know all of the characters in play, and falling in love with their imposing house by the sea. It was enchanting with a dark undercurrent and I couldn’t wait to follow Annaleigh as she investigated the deaths that seemed to curse her family.
Annaleigh, at first, seemed like the perfect YA female lead. She was strong and intelligent but still brash and closed minded. We’ve all known teenagers, been teenagers. They think they know everything and no matter the evidence in their faces they often refuse to change their view. It was nothing short of delightful to see a YA character actually behaving like a young adult. Shocking! We even got introduced to a long interest that gave every impression of being super swoony.
Then, we get into part two. In this section the fantasy aspects of the story start to be introduced. This was…jarring. Nothing fantasy feeling happened in the first part of the book so I was already well absorbed into the story, the flow, and the mechanics before these fantasy themes popped up. It interrupted my immersion in the story, completely took me out of it. Honestly, I don’t think after that first jolt I ever managed to get back into the story. The sudden fantasy aspect was so shocking after not having ANY facets of the fantasy genre I just couldn’t get past it. A story had been introduced, the rules of the world seemingly set, to pick that up and throw it out of the window did not in any way work for me.
Now, we get to part three. This is when everything starts to really collapse for me. The fantasy part is all in at this point which if it had started out that way it would have been pretty good. That being said, none of our characters show any signs of character growth, our love interest is there to merely be eye candy for Annaleigh and doesn’t add anything to the story, there is magic added to be little more than a shock factor, and it just goes on and on and on. Nothing added in this section actually adds or enhances the plot, it is just fluff and dark candy.
If I were rating these sections individually I would give part one three stars, part two two stars, and part three one star. So, going with the average, I just gave the book an overall two.
There were so many topics and themes in this book that were introduced and added nothing to the story itself. Things would happen that felt significant and then they are never brought up again. Characters find their way into the story and are made a big deal about and then they never show up again. Everything just seemed so irrelevant after a while. Will I try to read more by the author in the future? Likely but this book left a bad taste in my mouth.
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