By V.E. Schwab
Published March 2022
I nearly passed on this book, since my impression of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was lukewarm at best (my review is here). But I couldn’t resist the teaser that comped this novel to The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak. Plus, I haven’t read any Young Adult in awhile so I picked it up, and I’m awfully glad I did.
In an atmosphere that is beautifully, creepily Gothic, we follow Olivia Prior as she is swept away from her life at an orphanage to live with a family she never knew existed at their grand estate, Gallant. The only problem is, no one sent for her. Not only is the skeleton staff confused about her arrival, her cousin orders her away immediately.
Her only living relative has a good reason for wanting her gone. The Priors are cursed, destined to die one by one in their quest to contain the shadow estate on the other side of the crumbling garden wall. But Olivia has dreamed of a family and a home for too long to let a demon in a shadow world deter her.
Even though most of the characters are somewhat two-dimensional and we never find out much about them, Olivia is an intriguing character. Raised in an orphanage from the age of two, the only thing her mother left her was a journal that acts as a record of her descent into madness. Despite her tough upbringing, Olivia is sneaky, clever and will not hesitate to fight, not having a voice to defend herself with. She can also see spirits. Watching her carry the entire story was a bit like watching Will Smith in Independence Day. His character shouldn’t have made the movie, but it did.
There were a few things that kept me from rating this book higher, even though I continued to turn pages late into the night. One was the character development. The other was the fact that at least two, possibly three, chapters began with Olivia dreaming. Once I’m okay with; more than that irritates me. But I let it slide in the interest of finding out what weirdness waited on the other side of the garden wall. This book was definitely more Crimson Peak than Secret Garden and it’s absolutely worth the read.
I finalized my rating at 4 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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