Hellllllo readers, a little bit of an emotional review for you today; I’ve spoken to a number of bookish bloggers about this but sometimes it gets a bit too much. I’ve thought for a while about taking a blogging break and step back for a while, create some breathing space, get through my review requests and get back on top of it all. We’ll have to see; sometimes it feels like it’s all a bit too much. The reading, reviewing, writing, the social media, the emails, and all whilst attempting to hold down a full-time job, travel home and see friends/family/Lola & Barbie and trying to build on a new relationship. Gah, I feel like I’m having a blogging midlife crisis. I’ve also struggled with the book used for today’s review; a fantasy book which I found difficult to read, but I’ll let you find out why.
When eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, accepts an invitation to the small town of Blacksville, West Virginia, she hopes to have a summer to remember and a chance to learn more about her parents, to also get to know the family she never knew existed. But the Lockes begin to act strange and erratic; eerie movements in the night fuel her vivid and gruesome nightmares. To complicate her summer further, she becomes attracted to the menacing yet handsome Cray Locke: her none blood related cousin. He seems determined to keep his distance.
The only bonus to her trip seems to be the housekeeper and gardener. And when a local informs Crystal of the secrets buried at Thorncrest Manor, the kind consisting of a forbidden relationship and a war between hidden worlds, and witchcraft, she must decide whom to trust. Even if it means leaving behind those she has come to love.
As the blurb suggests the book follows Crystal who has a horrible start in life in which both her parents die in a terrible car accident. Sent to live with her Aunt who is then a little shockingly killed in a house fire thing aren’t looking to positive. Alone in the world and spending her remaining childhood in a foster care home, a woman who claims to be her long lost great aunt appears seemingly out of nowhere, Crystal is invited to find out more about her mother and her family. But not is all as it seems, once in Thorncrest Manor, the family appear to turn on Crystal and her destructive relationship with Cray looks soon to burst; as readers we follow Crystal as she seeks to find out more about herself and the family she barely knew.
In terms of positives Crystal is a well-developed although complicated character. She has a lot of emotion and she’s written with passion. Her relationships throughout the book were thorny and although she has a lot of layers to her as a character, I found her difficult to warm to. At times she was prickly and her relationship with Cray is a little odd. They are both distant with each other and at times he treats her horribly whilst she adores him. It didn’t sit well with me as a reader. Their relationship is uncomfortable at best and they don’t interact in an open way at all. Additionally with her mood swinging, from needy to jealous to desperately in love, I was exhausted. Although the writing is quite strong in places, as to the description of characters and the like, the pace is slow and I found myself having to read the first few chapters a number of times to get into the book; saying this it does pick up but it’s a slow burner.
I also questioned throughout Crystal’s decision to stay at the Manor. From almost the moment she arrives there, it becomes noticeably clear that there is something very wrong with the Locke family. Isobel’s character changes so utterly she’s barely recognisable (whilst she shows no intention of sharing any further information) and Crystal starts to suffer with terrifying nightmares which are suggested to be due to her being tormented by ghosts. Throughout Crystal attempts to rationalise what is happening whilst I was yelling to myself ‘get the hell out of there.’ It didn’t make sense to me that a girl with such intellect would stay there so long in such a unpredictable environment. Additionally towards the end of the book it becomes truly disturbing; there are a number of descriptions of rape and sensitive material that I didn’t find fitted or was needed. It all became a bit too much. Additionally the ending didn’t clear anything up for me. Many questions are left unanswered and although I assume due to the ending a second book is in the making I don’t think I’ll be reading it.
I guess for me this book just didn’t work. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get or enjoy from this book. The writing at times works well it has ebb and flow and although it moves with a slow pace many of the descriptions are spot on. I found however the situation that our main character is in and her personality as a whole jarred and became confused. Additionally as we work our way through the story and realise that we’re not getting the answers we expected it feels like the book was for nothing. It’s frustrating and unrealistic and I found it a difficult to read. Unfortunately one I’m a little saddened to have read.