A darker shade of YA; prevalently sinister, rich in magic and suspense.
The Price Guide to the Occult
by Leslye Walton
I was over the moon when I got this book even though at the time, the extent of my knowledge was that it was written by the same author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. I was so excited that I started reading it right away. This book is darker than the usual YA. It has magic in spades and the persistent ambiance of an approaching mayhem. It’s ripe in history as well – which is surprising considering how slight this book is.
The book is about the generations of Blackburn women. Starting from the matriarch Rona Blackburn. All she wanted was to start a new life on a remote island and while she was received nonchalantly by some, the others have already pegged her for a witch that will bring down death and distraction in their small community. It didn’t end well, so she cursed them.
Fast forward to the present time, Nor Blackburn’s mission in life was to lay low and live a normal life. But because she’s a Blackburn, her last name comes with a baggage. Her childhood on the island wasn’t the best: her mother saw her as a burden who mistreated her at every turn until she abandoned her. But she’s not all alone in the world. She’s got good friends and great grand mothers who love her. If it weren’t for them, her life would be completely miserable. When a mysterious book of spell arrives on the island, promising to give the recipient of the book whatever their hearts desire – for a price, that is – Nor knew it wasn’t a coincidence. Especially when strange things started happening on the island.
Soon, the anxiety she felt manifested in the return of her mother. Superseded by missing townspeople, deaths, and mysterious behaviours of the flora and fauna variety.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It may look like it took me a long time to read it (February to May) but I didn’t really. I had to take a break to fulfill other reading obligations. Y’all know what that’s like. Lol. Anyway, it’s hard not to fall in love with Ms. Walton’s writing. She makes every creature, every character, and even the island seem larger than life. Like it could very well pop out of the pages of the book.
Nor’s story as a child wasn’t so fun to read. She went through so much abuse in the hands of her mother. See, the Blackburn women are gifted with witchcraft and her mother felt that amongst the Blackburn women, Nor was a dud. Also, they are cursed not to find the love of their lives. Nor’s father wasn’t exempt from this curse. Unfortunately, Fern, Nor’s mother, fell in love with a man who would never reciprocate. And because she’s a vindictive witch, he’ll never live in peace. And in turn, Fern took it out on the one reminder of her curse, which was Nor. The extent of her evil tendencies was boundless. Truly a hateful, sinister woman.
There’s so much to look forward to if this is ever going to be a series. The ending left the door wide open, for sure. There’s the temporary truce between Gage and Nor, who, for some reason hated her guts. I need to know why because that wasn’t explained here. The Price Guide to the Occult reminded me of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic but somehow even more darker.