From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
Trigger Warning: Child abuse & self harm
I was pleasantly surprised by The Price Guide to the Occult. I previously attempted The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and couldn’t get into it at all so this was a surprise that I enjoyed this one.
Firstly, the story was a bit choppy and confusing at times. Especially when we swap time frames and jump back to her childhood without any warning at all. This led to a bit of confusion until I realised what was going on. I did enjoy that we had those glimpses into the past as they set the picture of what Fern, the MC’s mother was really like. However, I do wish they indicated that change somehow in the book by maybe putting a date at the top or even Nor’s age at the time of the event. This confusion was also present when Nor was having a dream. It took a couple pages to realise that she was not doing these things and that it was a dream..
The other small thing I didn’t like was the romance. It felt forced and a little flat and I don’t feel like it was really necessary. It would of been a lot more enjoyable if they had the focus on the friendship between Savvy & Nor rather than the romance between Nor and another character. Also what the heck was that random bit of love triangle thrown in at the end?? I get that if you are in a situation where you believe you’re about to die that you may do something unexpected but it just didn’t make sense and added absolutely nothing to the plot.
The Price Guide to the Occult was an enjoyable, quick, fun & easy read. It’s super short but packs a lot in and is fairly action packed so I found myself flying through it. I think I read it in basically 2 sittings which is quick for me even for a book just under 300 pages. I was also engaged the entire time and didn’t want to put it down. There were a couple things I didn’t understand but overall and enjoyable reading experience.
I loved that we got a prologue that really set the scene and explained the world and magic systems. For such a short book I feel like we got a tonne of world building and explanation about the magic. There were a few things that were never explained and I feel like this book was set up to have a sequel where we got more explanation but alas, it is only a standalone.
The ending was also slightly disappointing. There was tonnes of build up to this big ending and then when it came to defeating the bad guy it just kinda happened and then that was it. It wasn’t draw out and there wasn’t some big battle or anything. There was like 2 lines and it was all over. So the ending definitely felt a tad lacking compared to the rest of the plot.
Most of the major characters like Nor, Savvy, Judd and a couple others felt fleshed out and we got some background from them however there were a fair few side characters that were talked about but weren’t really given any depth. They were kind of just a name and that’s it.
Overall while this book was enjoyable there were a few things that definitely could have been improved. I feel like this book would have made more of an impact if it had been a duology rather than a standalone. There would have been more time for explanation and also a better conclusion possibly. However, that is not the case and while I did enjoy the reading experience this isn’t a favourite.
Have you read The Price Guide to the Occult?
Did you enjoy it?
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