On the secluded, Northwestern Island of Anathema, the Blackburn women have been living in hiding for nine generations. Their matriarch, Rona's curse allows them one blessing or "burden" of witch craft but comes at a terrible cost - a three day love affair always resulting in pregnancy. That doesn't sound like too bad of a curse to some, but for introverted and tortured Nor, the threat looms over her like a dark shadow. Unfortunately for her, something even worse is coming.
I initially picked this book up because of cover. The large print text covers definitely seem to be in season this year. I've noticed most of the books I've picked up for the next few weeks have a similar motif. The title was also intriguing and implied something sinister in an almost Shakespearean way. Does something wicked this way come? In many ways, yes. Very wicked.
The setting of the novel was definitely my favorite thing. With the rise of urban fantasy, it's become pretty common to see these YA Fantasy novels set in New York or Chicago or some other large city. Instead, The Price Guide To The Occult is set on a sweet, tourist trap of an island off the coast of Washington state. The author does a beautiful job describing the wild life, the nature and the environment around us. The downtown area seems to be very "Stars Hollow-esque" with cute, local shops and sprawling, lush landscapes everywhere else. Nature plays an important role in the novel, so it was great to see the author utilize this well.
Nor is an intriguing main character, but , interestingly enough for this genre, she is not also the narrator. We see everything in third person but stay close to Nor the entire time. Nor is a deeply flawed character but relatable. She struggles with an abusive relationship with her distant mother and as such, has some problems with self harm. Walton is delicate with her description of Nor's mental illness but readers should know that this element is prominent in the book. The other characters are only in the novel briefly enough for us to see them and get to know them on a surface level, but more on that in a minute.
If I had just one complaint about this novel, it would be that the plot is fairly one dimensional. The book is incredibly short. I believe it took me only 4 or 5 hours to read, easy enough for one sitting on a weekend. As such, there isn't a lot of complexity or depth to the narrative. Everything that happens is fairly predictable and I can't think of a single twist I encountered as a went a long. Also, since the book was short, I had a hard time believing and feeling attached to the relationships Nor formed. There is a love triangle sub-plot but it doesn't come into play in the main plot, so it's somewhat forgettable. I did think that the plot, while predictable, was enjoyable and unique.
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton is a fun, quick and easy read. There is self harm in novel, which could be trigger for many, but it is tastefully done. The world Walton constructs is beautiful and vibrant, while the plot is a bit more simple. The ending leave the story open to a possible sequel, which I'm hoping for as I was left with many questions at the end.