Review: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

March 13, 2018 Review 0

Review: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye WaltonThe Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick Press on March 13, 2018
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Format: eBook, Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 288
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Tacoma
3 Stars

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.

A PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT immediately drew me in. With its intimate voice and rich magical backstory, Nor's story started strong. Though readers should be warned that A PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT deals with issues of self-harm and child abuse.

Unfortunately, by the time I'd made it halfway through A PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT, my attention began to waver. While the impressive beginning was enough to keep me reading, the pace immediately slowed. Nor doesn't actively do much except go for runs around the island and attempt to ignore her multitude of powers. She knows a storm is coming, but she doesn't talk about it with the other characters or do anything to prepare for it. She's stagnant and remains that way until the storm finally hits the island, but by that time I hadn't been convinced I should care.
With beautiful writing and intriguing lore, A PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT had tremendous potential but ultimately fizzled for me. Many readers may be enraptured by the slow romance and dark atmosphere of the novel. While that was enough to keep me reading, I was disappointed by the rushed ending, which felt undeserved after pages of Nor's passivity.
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If you're looking for another YA novel featuring witches, check out Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.

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