In 2016 I had the pleasure of stumbling upon one of the most beautifully written books, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Since then I have been eagerly anticipating the day when Walton announced her next publication.
As of March 13, the wait was finally over when The Price Guide to the Occult was published.
Did Walton’s The Price Guide to the Occult sweep me away like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton
Publisher: Candlewick Press (March 13, 2018)
Print Length: 288 pages
Audiobook: Whitney Dykhouse
Narrator: 6 hrs and 45 mins
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.
While The Price Guide to the Occult managed to keep my interest for its entire 288 page run, it also suffered because of its length, leaving me with more questions than answers come its conclusion.
The Price Guide to the Occult tells the fantastical tale of teenager Nor Blackburn as she tries to survive a wicked curse, passed through the matriarchal line of her family, her absentee mother’s rising fame, and a love that could shatter her existence.
Once again, Walton created a whimsically beautiful reading experience. As with Ava Lavender, The Price Guide to the Occult centers around an independent and headstrong female character, in this case Nor, as she learns about her mother, her grandmother, and the matriarchal ancestors. The pacing of the backstory, as well as Nor’s story line with her mother were expertly crafted, and yet, there were side stories being written about congruently to the main one, which kind of lost me on more than one occasion.
Nor as a character was intriguing enough. Forewarning in case you want to read this but are sensitive to scenes of self-farm, Nor struggles with both metaphorical as well as physical demons, which was a brave choice to write about on Walton’s part. She didn’t make it Nor’s defining quality, but she also didn’t bring it up solely for shock value, making The Price Guide to the Occult an appropriate representation of mental health issues. Besides Nor, however, I really don’t feel that any other characters were as developed, leading me to find them unmemorable.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. Have any Paranormal YA recommendations you’d like to share? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.