By Adrienne Young
Publication Date: September 27, 2022
There’s so much to love about this novel, I’m not even sure where to begin. I suppose I’ll start with the blurb: August Salt returns to Saoirse Island after fleeing fourteen years ago. Only the last wishes of his mother to be buried on Saoirse could compel him to leave the mainland and give the islanders a reason to revisit his teenage misdeeds. Not only does he have to face the people he nearly ruined, but he also has to face Emery Blackwood, the true love he left behind.
Emery may be willing to forgive him, but the townspeople are not so quick to forget the devastating fire that nearly destroyed the orchard and their livelihoods or the unsolved death of a teenage girl that same night. August’s return stirs up not only memories that everyone would rather leave buried, but also the island’s magic. This time, he might not get a second chance to leave.
This novel had me hooked by the end of the third chapter and I sacrificed sleep to keep reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. The author wove in layers upon layers of world building and backstory, dropping in hints then looping back to some point before the fire to fill in the blanks. But never everything at once, there was always more to come. The complexity of the plot and characters kept me guessing about the island’s history, how ancestral rivalries were driving the current residents, and what really happened that night fourteen years ago. I could even easily forgive the use of one-time point of view characters (something that normally irks me) because this was really two stories: the love story between August and Emery and the history of the island and its residents. Both were amazing.
The only thing keeping me from giving a full five-star review was the ending. I was expecting something big, some type of reckoning, but the story wrapped up much quieter than I’d anticipated. It almost felt unfinished, so I have to wonder if there’s a sequel in the works. If so, I’ll be keeping my eye out for it.
My final rating is 4.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐+ Despite not giving it a full five stars, it’s definitely one of the best novels I’ve read this year.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for providing the ARC copy of this book. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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